Adolf Hitler is running for election in India. So is Frankenstein.
The tiny northeast Indian state of Meghalaya has a special fascination for interesting and sometimes controversial names, and the ballot for state elections yesterday is proof.
Among the 345 contestants running for the state assembly are Frankenstein Momin, Billykid Sangma, Field Marshal Mawphniang and Romeo Rani.
Some, like Kenedy Marak, Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem and Jhim Carter Sangma, are clearly hoping for the electoral success of their namesake US presidents.
Then there is Hitler.
This 54-year-old father of three has won three elections to the state assembly with little controversy over being named after the Nazi dictator.
His father had worked with the British army, but apparently developed enough of a fascination with Great Britain’s archenemy to name his son Adolf Hitler — though he also gave him the middle name Lu, Hitler said.
“I am aware at one point of time Adolf Hitler was the most hated person on Earth for the genocide of the Jews, but my father added ‘Lu’ in between, naming me Adolf Lu Hitler, and that’s why I am different,” Hitler said from the small village of Mansingre, 200km west of Gauhati, the capital of the nearby state of Assam.
Hitler said his name has not stopped him from traveling the world, including to the US and Germany.
“I never had problems obtaining a visa, but I was asked many times during immigration as to why I should have such a name. I told the immigration staff I possibly didn’t have a role in my naming,” he said.
India had thousands of troops fighting alongside the allies in World War II, especially in North Africa and Burma, but many Indians view Hitler not as the personification of evil, but as a figure of fascination.
Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is prominently displayed at many Indian bookstores. The owner of a menswear shop named his store “Hitler,” then expressed puzzlement last year after Israel complained.
Musfika Haq, a teacher in Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong, said such names are common in the state.
“Parents obviously get fascinated by names of well-known or great leaders, but must be unaware that some of them, like Hitler, had been highly controversial,” he said.