A third gender candidate today created history by winning the mayoral elections in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh Municipal Corporation by defeating her nearest rival from the Bharatiya Janata Party. While social platforms were buzzing with positive messages, political parties reacted dourly to the historic win of Madhu Kinnar.
Kinnar, who contested as an Independent candidate, won the election by 4,537 votes against BJP's Mahaveer Guruji, an election official said. Kinnar, 35, belonged to the Dalit community, and is the first person from the third gender to get elected to the post.
On Kinnar’s victory, the main opposition Congress said: "it is BJP's loss, not Madhu's win." Though Kinnar belonged to the third gender, most mainstream news reports referred to her as a woman. Kinnar preferred wearing saris, according to this report in The Telegraph.
Kinnar isn’t India's first transgender mayor, two other successful candidates before her were disqualified by courts because those posts were reserved for women, The Telegraph reported. Raigarh's mayoral post is not reserved, the report said.
According to The Telegraph, Kamla Jaan was the mayor of Katni in united Madhya Pradesh—to which Chhattisgarh then belonged—as an Independent in December 1999.
Asha Devi was elected from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh in 2000 and ousted in 2003.
The legendary Shabnam Mausi, was the first transgender to be elected to public office. She was an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.
Kinnar’s win is a step forward for India’s transgenders, who live in stigma and are often persecuted and exploited by the police. They were granted legal status by the Supreme Court in April 2014 as the 'third gender'. In a landmark judgement, the apex court had also asked the Centre to treat the transgender as socially and economically backward, so they can benefit from social security schemes.
The court said transgender people will be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category. The court, in its order, had also asked the states to construct special public toilets for the third gender and ensure there are departments to look into their medical issues.
Kinnar credited the win to the locals who helped during campaigning.
"People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I'll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams," Kinnar said.
Kinnar, whose real name is Naresh Chauhan, is educated up to the eighth standard and did odd jobs for a living. He supplemented her income by singing and dancing in trains.
"I only spent Rs 60,000-70,000 from my earnings during my campaign. It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner," Kinnar told PTI. The ruling BJP in the state had fielded Mahaveer Guruji for the election, denying ticket to its incumbent Mayor Mahendra Chauhatha, while Congress had shown confidence in Jethuram Manhar for the third time.
"There was no Modi wave in Raigarh this time. People of Raigarh were fed up with the corruption of BJP, hence they voted for Madhu. It is not Madhu Kinnar's victory, but it's a loss of BJP," Raigarh district Congress (urban) president Narendra Negi said.
"We accept the decision of people and we will review it," BJP district president Rajesh Sharma said. The outgoing BJP Mayor Chauhatha, who was denied a ticket this time, said the people have rejected the candidates of both the leading parties.
The selection of candidate should be done looking into the situation, he said. The counting of votes for the two-phase civic body polls for 154 urban bodies in the state is underway today.
With Inputs from PTI.