26/01/2017 10:13 AM IST | Updated 26/01/2017 10:26 AM IST

Meet Mumtaz, The First Transgender Candidate To Contest Punjab Assembly Polls

Mumtaz is being fielded by the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

A candidate who comes in the 'other' gender category is contesting the Assembly elections for the first time in Punjab. Mumtaz, a social worker, is the only transgender out of a total of 1145 candidates who are fighting elections. She is contesting as a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from the Bhucho Mandi constituency.

"I joined politics because I want to serve and help people better," Mumtaz said. "I will give them back twice the amount of support they give me."

Mumtaz has been associated with BSP for over 11 years. She has a Mahindra Bolero pickup listed among her assets and makes a living collecting 'badhai' from people who call her on auspicious occasions. "I am especially grateful to Mayawatiji for recognising and supporting me," Mumtaz said. "Mayawati has given us so much love and respect, she is like a God for us."

According to the 2011 census, Punjab has a population of 10,243 transgenders, out of which only 293 are registered as voters. Transgenders in India were granted voting rights only in 1994.

"Mumtaz has worked hard and was selected unanimously by the party panel," BSP coordinator for Punjab and Chandigarh, Prakash Bharti said. "Mumtaz has been getting a lot of support from the people as well." Until now, India has had just one transgender MLA, Shabnam Bano, who was elected to the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly in 1998.

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