Indian party denies telling politician to drop 'Christian' surname

Tue 28 Aug 2018
By Cara Bentley

Indian politician, Atishi Marlena has changed her twitter name, with Indian media saying it was to curb rumours that she was a Christian that aren't true. 

Atishi was chosen as a 2019 electoral candidate for East Delhi Lok Sabha on Monday and has since dropped 'Marlena' from her twitter handle and created a new account under the name @AtishiAAP.

Indian media quickly accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), from which she belongs, via various anonymous sources, of forcing her to do so, seemingly to make her more electable. 

They reported that she was advised to drop her surname out of fear that it would give their rival Bharatiya Janata Party an advantage "even though she is from a Punjabi Rajput family", an anonymous AAP leader told one media company.

ThePrint is the main website accusing the AAP and claim the party said that confronting the issue that her name 'sounded Christian' didn't need to be addressed in the past but "times have changed".

The media company Latestly say Malena is not her birth surname but that her father Professor Vijay Singh had given the surname to her daughter after being inspired by Marx and Lenin and merging their names.

However, the AAP deny the claims, with their Joint Secretary Akshay Marathe saying on twitter: "A progressive politician like @AtishiAAP who DOES NOT use her caste name 'Singh' to ask for votes, is being targeted for using only Atishi without 'Marlena'

"Our discourse is around education and healthcare, not on identities of caste and religion."

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