Patna: For the first time, a member from the transgender community has been given a ticket by a registered political party to contest the ongoing assembly elections in Bihar. The three-phase polling in the state starts from October 28.
Ram Darshan Prasad alias Munna Kinner has been fielded by Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Chirag Paswan, son of Dalit politician late Ram Vilas Paswan, from Hathua seat in Gopalganj district. He is the first transgender considered over the general candidates to join the poll fray by any political party in the state and that has added extra interest in the contest.
Prasad though is not new to politics and has been unsuccessfully contesting the assembly elections since 2005. However, this is the first time that any party has reposed faith in his merit and allotted him party symbol. He has also been winning the elections to village council, thanks to his dedication for the masses.
“I have been contesting assembly elections since 2005 as an Independent candidate but this is for the first time that a political party has given me the ticket to contest the polls. I owe my gratitude to late Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan,” Prasad told the media.
He is getting support from the local villagers who have raised funds to back his poll campaign. “My supporters have arranged me a vehicle to help me reach out to the voters. They even refuel it,” he adds. The fact that he has been familiar with the voters as an elected ward member from Hathua village council area is proving to be a great help to him.
The LJP said it was pleased to give a ticket to someone who has been sensitive towards the people’s issues and working for their welfare for long. “We want to create a new Bihar, and giving transgender a ticket to contest assembly polls is a step in this direction,” party spokesperson Ashraf Ansari said.
“No political party has ever mentioned about the welfare plans for the transgender community. Under this background giving ticket to a person from transgender identity is indeed a welcome step,” said Reshma Prasad, expert member of the National Council for Transgender Persons in New Delhi. He has also served as a Member of the Transgender Welfare Board, Bihar which was formed to look into the problems of LGBT community and safeguarding their rights.
According to a report of the Election Commission, there are just 2,344 transgender voters eligible to cast their votes in the assembly elections. Reshma Prasad, however, says there are around 40,000 transgenders in the voting age.
Earlier this month, the Election Commission appointed a transgender woman Monika Das, 32, a banker, as presiding officer for Bihar polls. “I see this opportunity as a significant victory of our community, which will leave a positive impact on the overall public perception towards transgender community,” Monika has said.
Prior to them, the National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar had used the services of this community. In 2006, the authorities in Patna had employed eunuchs to collect municipal tax from the defaulters who refused to pay taxes despite all efforts. Such was the impact that the government’s coffers filled up barely within a week of employing the eunuch as many cleared the long-standing dues after seeing the furiously-clapping eunuchs knocking their doors.
In 2018, the state government had planned to employ eunuchs as security guards in remand homes or short stay homes to put a check on the sexual exploitation of girls lodged there.