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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 12:00 GMT
Voting for Frankenstein
Frankenstein - would you vote for this man?
If you think politicians have become a dull lot, then head on to the Indian state of Meghalaya where candidates in Wednesday's elections there include Frankenstein, Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill and Chamberlain.

You could also vote for Ulysses - he is running on an independent ticket.

In case you had not guessed, Ulysses' four sisters are named England, New Zealand, Finland and Switzerland. And they are offering him full support.

Rockfeller Momin
Hilarious Dhkar
Oral Syngkhei
These unlikely names have their roots in Meghalaya's tribal groups who like to sound knowledgeable by naming their children after great leaders.

The names are also part of a culture where laughter is considered important.

Brazen jokes

Meghalaya's three major tribes, the Khasis, the Garos and Jaintias all have Laugh Clubs. Giving their children whacky names is part of the fun.

Election rally in Meghalaya
Are we looking at George Bush or Saddam?

"We share the most brazen of jokes at these clubs," says local historian Milton Sangma.

Which might explain why one of the candidates is Tony Curtis, better known as a Hollywood legend.

"We believe if we laugh heartily at least once or twice a day, we will live long."


Most of the tribal members are now Christians. So plenty of babies are given names such as Edward, John or David.

But it is the more unusual names that draw attention.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main party in the federal coalition, has a candidate called Moonlight.

You will find Morning Star, and another candidate, simply known as Barrister, standing for the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Also hoping to get elected on a UDP ticket are Britain War and the politician called Artist. (Music fans might wonder if he was formerly known as Prince.)

The Congress Party has a man called Friday hoping to be elected.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik says the Christian tribes want little to do with communism.

But in days gone by, communist sympathisers would name their babies Lenin, or Stalin.

Lenin's name has gone out of fashion

Popular baptism names now reflect today's diplomatic agenda.

"Be sure you have babies being named Bush and Clinton, Saddam and Blair but it will be a while before they grow up and contest elections," says local journalist Anirban Roy.

Perhaps the final word should go to Adolf Lu Hitler R Marak, seeking to hold on to his seat in Meghalaya's state assembly.

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

"I am happy with my name, although I don't have any dictatorial tendencies."

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