AAP Leader Atishi Marlena Dropped Her Surname, So What?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao
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Atishi Marlena

AAP leader Atishi Marlena dropped her last name ‘Marlena’ from her Twitter handle, allegedly because it sounds "Christian".


Atishi, who was recently declared the party’s candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, has switched to @AtishiAAP from @Atishimarlena. Not just this, her name now features on the AAP website sans her surname too, reports The Indian Express. While she has not given any reason for this drastic personal and professional move, it has led to quite a lot of speculation, both in media and political alleyways.

Whatever may be the reason behind such a decision, it seems ridiculous to fret so much over a woman dropping her surname. Why does it bother us, voters and politicians alike, that Atishi (whose actual surname is Singh) chose to drop ‘Marlena’ as her last name? We cannot know what Atishi’s personal stance is behind this move. All people are doing is mere speculation.

What is more bothersome is the unnecessary hype being given to this issue, which takes away focus from Atishi’s political agenda

Why does her move bother us so much?

This move to drop her surname could be entirely her personal choice. You have to understand someone’s personal journey to understand why they change their name or drop their last name. It is a big decision with instant social repercussions, especially in a country like ours, where surname is a lot more than being just that. But since Atishi is yet to disclose the reasons for this change, everyone has put their ladles in this political khichdi and begun making speculations.


  • AAP leader Atishi Marlena has dropped her last name from her Twitter handle and her name has been amended on AAP website too.
  • The controversy this move has raked in has shifted the focus from her political agenda.
  • Be it personal or political, people need to let go of this controversy and focus on Atishi's political profile. Because a candidate only deserves our vote for what he/she has to offer to us an elected leader.

If the reasons are not political and indeed personal, then perhaps we should respect Atishi’s wishes and drop the matter. There are numerous people, both men and women, who want to be in the public eye sans a last name. Perhaps their surname comes with too much of a burden. Or with a familial inheritance they would rather not have. Is it correct to question someone’s choice to drop their last name then, unaware of their circumstances?

Even if it is a political move, then everyone needs to look beyond it. Because this is taking our attention away from what Atishi as a politician stands for. Would East Delhi voters be casting their vote on basis of her surname or her political agenda? Then why are we not asking more questions about her politics? What does Atishi sans or with Marlena stand for? Why must people vote for her in 2019 elections and give her a chance to serve the public?

Instead of dissecting her choice to drop her surname, it would benefit people more to dissect her political career so far

Being an elected member of Lok Sabha is not a small feat. It comes with a lot of expectations from voters and thus a ton of responsibilities. A candidate only deserves our vote for what he or she has to offer to us as an elected leader. Being a woman, Atishi will also be put under more intense scrutiny than her male counterparts. She has dared to endure that scrutiny without a last name. Something which will earn her a disapproving head shake from numerous traditional people.

So Atishi’s move may just be a request to us to see her for who she really is. Sans the frills of a last name, but as a woman asking for your vote. Now it is up to us. Do we look at her and her politics, or do we get caught in the controversy about something she has discarded? Think about it.


Photo credit: Hindustan Times

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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