Hyderabad- The second list of Telangana BSP Marks a historic step with the introduction of the first transgender candidate from Warangal. In a ground breaking move for the state, the BSP's state unit has taken a progressive stride in empowering the third gender.
Among its listed candidates, Chitrapur Pushpita Laya emerges as the pioneering choice, representing the transgender community in the Warangal East constituency. Laya's candidature not only signifies a historic first for Telangana but also for the entirety of Andhra Pradesh, the antecedent Telugu-speaking state.
The Bahujan Samaj Party, a national party that has contested state elections in Telangana and its predecessor state Andhra Pradesh for many decades, is experiencing unprecedented enthusiasm among BSP supporters this time. The Telangana BSP is on a roll during this election. A few days back, the state unit of the party also released its manifesto, a first for the party in the country, although Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar called it a “Roadmap."
The State Unit of BSP has taken a lead in pushing the envelope for empowering the third gender. In its second list, it announced Chitrapur Pushpita Laya, a transgender, as its candidate from the Warangal East constituency of the State. Laya is not only the first transgender candidate from Telangana but also in Andhra Pradesh, the predecessor Telugu-speaking state of Telangana.
The Mooknayak spoke to Chitrapu Pushpita Laya, the transgender candidate. She said, “No party offered me a ticket; they look down on the transgender community as people who beg to earn a living. No party even approaches kinnars for campaigning." Laya heaped praise on BSP supremo Mayawati and the state Head Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar by saying that Mayawati is an able administrator, a female politician who has been the CM of Uttar Pradesh four times, while Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar has done a lot of work in the education sector.
The Mooknayak asked her why she joined the Bahujan Samaj Party. She said, “I observed that in other parties, people don’t have good thoughts about women and the transgender community. Chitrapu, who belongs to the scheduled caste, says that other people care about caste, but in the kinnar community, there is a feeling of oneness, and the whole transgender community, irrespective of the caste, is happy about the ticket given to me by the BSP. She says that she will go to the public with the slogan “Vote Humara Raj Tumhara nahi chalega" and, in case she wins the election, she will ensure there is employment for the people. “People who have received good education are working for Rs 200-300 per day. The people are only getting food grains for Rs 5, and the schemes of the state government have failed to provide jobs; the papers of the exams are getting leaked,” she said.
The 29-year-old candidate of the party has studied intermediate and was born and brought up in Warangal district. According to a report in the Indian Express, “In the last Telangana Assembly polls, 2,676 persons had registered themselves under the third gender category, and only 191 of them had voted.”
It was not until 1994 that the transgender community in India got the right to vote. Shabnam Mausi was the first transgender in India to enter public office when she won the assembly elections from the Sohagpur assembly constituency of Narmadapuram district of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2000. Her election to the assembly led to a flurry of candidatures for public offices from the transgender community in India.
In 2000, Madhya Pradesh scripted another history when Kamla Jaan became the first Mayor of Katni district in Central Madhya Pradesh in the Urban Local Body Polls.
In 2001, many transgenders won as Corporators in the urban body elections in Uttar Pradesh, and Asha Devi became the first Mayor from the transgender community in the state when she became the Mayor of Gorakhpur.
In 2019, the Election Commission of India appointed Gauri Sawant, a transgender candidate, as one of the 12 ambassadors in charge of creating awareness among the voters of the state.
In 2015, Madhu Kinnar, a transgender from the Dalit community, created history by becoming the first transgender Mayor in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh Municipal Corporation.
In 2022, Tatoba Hande became the first transgender corporator from the state of Maharashtra when she was elected as a corporator from the Hupari Municipal Corporation in the Kolhapur district of the State.
In 2022, Bobi became the first transgender corporator from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi when she won from the Sultanpuri area on an Aam Admi Party ticket.
However, it is to be remembered that transgender candidates also have to face a lot of headwinds while contesting the elections. Anannyah Kumari Alex, a transwoman candidate from Kerala who announced her candidature from the Democratic Social Justice Party ahead of the assembly elections in the state in 2021, was constrained to pull out of the poll race alleging gender discrimination and abuse from her own party. Alex was found dead in her flat the same year.
Ramakka, a 56-year-old transgender woman, contested the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2023 from the Kampli Assembly constituency as a candidate of the Desh Prem Party floated by her. She lost the elections.
For the upcoming elections, the transgender community in Telangana and Andhra have placed their hopes in Chitrapu Pushpita Laya.
Madhu Kinnar, the transgender from the Dalit community who became the first transgender Mayor in Chhattisgarh from the Raigarh Municipal Corporation, has announced her candidacy from Raigarh as a candidate of the Janta Congress party.
In the neighboring Madhya Pradesh, the Aam Admi party has fielded Chanda Kinnar from the Bada Malhera constituency of the Chhatarpur district of the state.
The absence of a single MLA in the country suggests that the glimmer of hope that the victory of Shabnam Mausi provided in the year 2000 has not manifested, and the transgender community still has a long way to go in terms of empowerment.