She owns a ₹85-lakh Audi and a ₹22-lakh Toyota Fortuner. Her love for yellow metal is substantiated by the fact that she owns 500-gm gold jewellery. These together form a part of her movable and immovable assets totalling more than ₹3.6 crore. Her riches apart, what puts Rajani Rawat in a different league from other politicians is her identity as the only third gender person to be contesting the February 15 assembly elections in Uttarakhand.
Rajani, however, is no political novice. Nine years ago, she had made heads turn and forced the political parties to take notice when she contested the Dehradon mayoral polls and snagged 44,000 votes, losing to the BJP candidate but edging past the Congress candidate, who came third.
Rajani, an eunuch (hijra) who commands tremendous following within her community and also among pockets of slum dwellers in Dehradun, is contesting the polls from two seats – Raipur and Dharampur, both in Sehradun. She faces a stiff competition as 19 candidates each are in fray on both these seats.
Rajani, incidentally, is the only other candidate in Uttarakhand apart from chief minister Harish Rawat who is contesting from two seats.
The 47-year-old was remained with the state Congress till last year. She decided to fight as an Independent after the party refused her a ticket. Having carried out a high pitch campaign over the past weeks, she is now hoping to “teach a lesson” to both the BJP and the Congress.
“It has been 17 years since the formation of the state but both BJP and Congress worked only for their own development,” Rawat said Monday, the last day of campaigning.
“Janta in dono ko sabak sikhane ka mann bana chuki hai…wo janti hai ki mere piche koi nahin hai toh main unke liye hi kaam karungi (people will teach a lesson to both BJP and Congress. They know I have no family, so I will work only for their development),” she added. Her colorful roadshows, replete with song and dance, have drawn huge crowds over the past few days.
So what has kept her political ambitions alive despite having lost three elections. “I have been working for my community for years. Now I want to work for all sections of the society. I want to fight for giving a dignified life to slum dwellers and other downtrodden people,” she added.
According to her nomination affidavit, Rawat’s total assets stand at ₹3.60 crore, including ₹2.36 crore in movable and ₹1.24 crore in immovable assets. Her source of income has been traditional profession of badhaiyan mangna (the custom where eunuchs offer blessings on family occasions in return for cash or gifts). Whether she receive the ‘blessings’ of the public or not, only time will tell!
The political journey of Rajani Rawat
Transgender leader Rajani Rawat made her political debut in 2008, contesting the Dehradun mayoral elections. She clinched over 44,000 votes but lost to BJP candidate. She later unsuccessfully contested the state assembly elections in 2012 (as Independent) and then mayoral polls (on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket) in 2013, but her vote share remained sizable for someone with no political background. After initially remaining close to the BSP, she supported Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna in the 2009 Parliamentary elections. She ultimately joined Congress ahead of the 2014 general elections, was appointed the vice-chairperson of the state women commission in 2015, but left the party in 2017 after being denied ticket. She is now fighting as an Independent on two seats in Dehradun - Dharampur and Raipur.