Madhya Pradesh assembly elections 2018: A transgender, shoe-polishing candidate liven up poll scene
Madhya Pradesh goes to polls to elect legislators for its 230 constituencies on Wednesday. Results will be declared on December 11.Updated: Nov 28, 2018 08:17 IST
Candidates from all walks of life are contesting the assembly election in Madhya Pradesh and are out all to convince voters in their own ways.
Independent candidate Bala Vaishwara is one such candidate.
“I don’t have a family. For people like me, the public is my family,” Vaishwara, a transgender contesting from Indore-2, tells voters.
And her election plank is poverty. “I, like you, know what it is like to be poor,” Bala didi, as the 28-year-old is called, said. “I’m not saying don’t vote for a man or a woman. I’m saying, vote for a good candidate.”
According to Rani Thakur, a 36-year-old housewife, she said the right thing. “For her, the public is the only family she has. Kinnars must be given a chance to come forward.”
Kinnar is one of the many socio-cultural communities of transwomen in the subcontinent. Wherever Vaishwara goes, people seek her blessing, as a kinnar’s good wishes are considered auspicious.
“Politicians touch people’s feet during elections, but people here are touching mine,” she says.
India’s first transgender politician was from Madhya Pradesh — in 1998, Shabnam Mausi Bano was elected MLA from Sohagpur constituency. Two transgender women were elected mayors in 1999 and 2009, but the courts declared their win void, as they had won from seats reserved for women.
After a 2014 judgment by the Supreme Court, which granted legal recognition to the third gender and held that transpersons have the right to self-identify their gender, this round of elections has seen an upswing in the number of transwomen candidates.
A Bharatiya Janata Party stronghold since 1993, Indore-2 saw incumbent Ramesh Mendola win by a record margin in 2013. The Congress candidate is Mohan Singh Sengar.
“You first have to get people to stop thinking only in terms of two parties to vote for,” 40-year-old Radha Hariyale, a resident of Raghunandan Bagh, tells Vaishwara. “You’ve tried both parties. You’ve tried men and women, now try me,” she replies.
Vaishwara’s support comes from Shram Andolan, a group of unions of handcart pullers, domestic workers and auto rickshaw drivers. Anil Yadav, a member of the autorickshaw drivers’ union, said he supported her because he thinks she will bring the change the area needs.
Sharad Singh Kumar of the Rashtriya Aamjan Party is contesting on the election symbol of a shoe and has garnered attention owing to his unique style of campaigning.
Singh is polishing shoes of people and says he will make use of his unique election symbol to turn it into a blessing.
‘‘It was a free poll symbol that no one was willing to take. We took it and we will turn it into a blessing,” he said, according to news agency ANI.
Madhya Pradesh will go to polls to elect legislators for its 230 constituencies on November 28. Results will be declared on December 11.
First Published: Nov 28, 2018 08:16 IST