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Transgender appointed as state spokesperson of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi

Disha Pinky Shaikh, a transgender person, says that she will use the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the downtrodden.

pune Updated: Feb 26, 2019 09:32 IST
Nozia Sayyed
Nozia Sayyed
Hindustan Times, Pune
vanchit bahujan aghadi,disha pinky shaikh,transgender appointed party spokesperson
Disha Pinky Shaikh, a transgender person, has been appointed the spokesperson of Maharashtra unit of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. (HT Photo )

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) has appointed a transgender person as its spokesperson for Maharashtra. The party claims this is the first time a person from the transgender community has been chosen as a spokesperson for a political party at the state level. Disha Pinky Shaikh, a writer and poet, says her party will make people know their community in a better way.

Shaikh says that she will use this opportunity to speak up on behalf of the downtrodden. Talking about her party’s agenda, she said, “Our motto is very clear. It is to give access to those who are minorities, downtrodden, shunned by the society and do not have access to the social or political system directly unlike others. Their ideologies are similar to mine and hence I chose to be with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi .” The Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi is in alliance with the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majl-is-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen.

Shaikh who is originally from Yeola, Nashik ,says that her life has been full of struggles. Raised by a single mother, Shaikh says, her family members shunned her. She says, “I still use ‘clapping’ as a business, and being selected as a spokesperson for a political party has not yet made me socially privileged.” (The transgender clap is symbolic to the community and a way to ask people for money.)

Talking about her appointment she says, “My appointment was mainly triggered by the recent appointment of another transgender, Apsara Reddy, who was appointed by the Congress as the national general secretary of its women’s wing. This gave me hope that I can make a difference. This progressive step in politics today assures change for betterment, mainly for minorities.”

Sharing her story Shaikh says, “I studied till Class 10. The non-acceptance of ‘my being’ at home was disturbing which made me quit studies. As a spokesperson I would like to highlight the issues faced by my community. We should be recognised as human beings. I want my sisters to earn livelihood, get jobs, educate themselves and not be identified with the sound of the ‘clap’.”

She further adds, “A political representation of our community is important and this will only happen if we get access to education and awareness. Hence, my main aim is to enlighten my community about their rights.”

Crediting her mentor she said, “I found solace with my guru in Shrirampur. I have faced depression in my teenage years. I wrote down my feelings and turned them into poems. My guru introduced me to a book which was the biography of Babasaheb Ambedkar, and this was a turning point in my life. Ambedkar has a major influence on my life and who I am today.”

She shared, “I chose writing as a medium and started writing weekly columns for Marathi newspapers. I picked up this medium to voice my issues related to my community which gained momentum. I am also invited in conferences as a motivational speaker.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 09:32 IST