Lucknow: The ongoing Lok Sabha elections may not be a Mahabharat in the true sense of the term, but characters from the epic abound the voter list in Uttar Pradesh.
According to Election Commission (EC) sources, there are more than 650,000 voters named Krishna and 3 million named Gita (after Krishna’s message in the battlefield) in the voter list.
More than 2.67 million voters share the name Sanjay, the narrator of the battle of Kurukshetra to King Dhritrashtra, while there are more than 920,000 voters called Arjun and 209,000 called Bhim.
Draupadi may not be a very popular name in the Hindi-speaking states, but the electoral list has 95,966 Draupadis, 16,225 Yudhishthirs and 1,422 Dronacharyas.
Bhishma figures 23,253 times in the voter list and even the epic’s villain Duryodhan has 62,311 namesakes.
Nakul, Sahdev and Abhimanyu are also common names in the list of the Hindi heartland.
Interestingly, the city of Mathura has more than 9,000 voters named Radha and a similar number of voters named Mohan and Krishna.
Social scientist Rati Khosla explains the phenomenon: “It is considered auspicious in the rural areas to name newborns after Hindu deities. This trend was very strong till about two decades ago when children were named Shiva, Gauri, Meera etc. Today, they figure in voter lists. Then came an era when children were named Rahul, Pooja, Neha after popular Bollywood characters. Today, the focus is on unusual sounding names with a definite meaning and examples are Myra, Nysa, Vivan, Ziva, Atharv …”