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Hitler, Frankenstein battle for votes in India

  • Story Highlights
  • Candidates with unusual names vie for seats in India's state election
  • Among the candidates are Frankenstein Momin and Adolf Lu Hitler Marak
  • There's also a Laborious Manik Syiem and a Hilarius Pohchen
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By Saeed Ahmed
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(CNN) -- Think Barack Hussein Obama has it rough campaigning for president with a name like that? The Illinois senator has nothing on Frankenstein Momin. Or Billy Kid Sangma. Or Adolf Lu Hitler Marak.

The three men are among dozens of others with equally colorful names who are competing for legislative seats in Meghalaya, a remote northeast Indian state, on March 3.

There are about 60 seats up for grabs, 331 candidates vying, and no shortage of unusual names.

There's Britainwar Dan, Admiral Sangma and Bombersingh Hynniewta -- all ready for battle.

There's Laborious Manik Syiem and Hilarius Pohchen. Boldness Nongrum and Clever Marak. Even a Tony Curtis Lyngdoh.

"It would be unfair to have a laugh at these names. They're reflective of the names here," David R. Syiemlieh, professor of history at the North Eastern Hill University in the capital city of Shillong, told CNN on Monday.

Meghalaya ("Abode of the Clouds") is a state of 2.6 million people. It's predominantly Christian -- but hasn't always been.

When the indigenous tribes first converted to Christianity, the locals named their children after the missionaries who preached to them. Subsequent generations started favoring words and names they were familiar with but didn't have a good understanding of.

"They may have heard of these names and personalities and it sounded nice to them," Syiemlieh (pronounced Same-LEH) said. "But it doesn't mean that they relate to Hitler or Frankenstein."

The trend lately, however, has been toward a return to more tribal names, he said.

Prashant Naik, the chief electoral officer of the state, told CNN that a candidate's name matters little to the electorate -- because so many voters and politicians themselves have peculiar ones.

"You have Australia, you have New Zealand, there's even a Thailand," Naik said. "I don't think that should matter in how people vote."

It certainly hasn't in Hitler Marak's case. He has been elected to public office before, with one of his stints as forestry minister.

"Maybe my parents liked the name and hence christened me Hitler," he once told the Hindustan Times newspaper.

" I am happy with my name, although I don't have any dictatorial tendencies." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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