"Vote for King Kong, the United Democratic Front candidate with the open palm symbol," went the announcement from a moving jeep while passing through the fourth ward of Mararikulam, North grama panchayath in Kerala. Yes, you read it right. There are posters seeking votes for 'K King Kong' all over the walls in the ward, but the candidate is not the legendary gorilla from Hollywood.
Many factors can make an election candidate stand out from others. It can be their promises, ideology or may be their activities in the ward. But, a few of candidates in the Kerala local body polls stand out, simply because of their names. One of them is K King Kong, a well-known Congress worker in the ward.
This is the first time that the 57-year-old is contesting in the elections. Speaking to TNM, he says that it was his parents and elder siblings who named him, as they were great fans of the King Kong movie.
"We had a theatre near our house, even before my birth. My parents used to watch movies there. It was after watching the movie King Kong that they gave that name to me. That was not a common name but I got it," he said. Though some used to tease him about the name earlier, King Kong said that he has no complaints as it was given to him by his parents.
"I am proud of my name. Wherever I've gone, I've been the centre of attraction as I had this name. Also, people identified me easily as I had this name," he said. He also said that his name helps him in his campaigning as people take a special interest in him. "I've never thought of changing this name," he said.
Another interesting candidate is JP Seventy Seven, a BJP leader contesting from the seventh ward of Kayanna panchayat in Kozhikode district. This is JP's second attempt in the local polls. In 2010, he lost by 10 votes.
"My father, who was an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) worker, was jailed during the Emergency and was released in 1977. He was also an admirer of Jayaprakash Narayan. So I was named JP, and in remembrance of my father's jail term, Seventy Seven was added," he said.
He said that everyone called him JP at school, college and in his village. "Also 7 is a digit that is always associated with me. It is a lucky number for me," he said.
TNM had earlier reported on how a few BJP workers in Kollam were campaigning for the victory of a candidate named Corona, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Corona Thomas is contesting as a BJP candidate from Mathilil ward of Kollam Corporation. At the time, she had said that her father had discovered the name in a dictionary, and that it meant 'shine'.
"I have a twin brother. So my father wanted to name us differently. I was named Corona and my brother was named Coral," she said. Incidentally, Corona had been infected with the coronavirus in October when she was pregnant. She later tested negative and decided to throw her hat in the ring.
Another candidate from Payyanakkal in Kozhikode district got her name from a family member's immense love for football.
Her uncle, an avid fan of football, named her Brasilia, after the capital of Brazil. "My sister's name is Badriya and the family wanted my name to begin with B. It was my uncle who suggested the name," Brasilia Shamsudheen, a candidate of the Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) told the media. She had won in 2010 from a different ward.