The world’s largest democracy, India has already embarked on the electoral journey to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.
Amidst many instances of hate crimes, casteism, and homophobia, the election season is peppered with representations from the members of Dalit, Bahujan, and transgender women. It is a welcome and a refreshing move in the political scenario which is heavily represented by upper caste males and fail to aptly represent the grievances of the marginalised, the power dynamics seem surely pro-change.
The Supreme Court passed the NALSA versus Union of India judgement, which granted equal rights to transgender persons, and this is the first election post that judgement, allowing transgenders to contest elections.
Following are some women who are ready to brave all odds and have their voices heard, loud and clear.
1. Ramya Haridas
Congress leader contesting from Alathur constituency against the two-time winner and left candidate P.K Biju, she represents the United Democratic Front, and if she wins, she would be the first Dalit woman MP from Kerala. She had forged her way into politics through a talent hunt organised by the Youth Congress in 2011, when Rahul Gandhi served as the General Secretary of the AICC. As the daughter of daily wage workers, Ramya had to leave her education due to financial constraints but got motivated to enter the political arena by her mother who was an active Congress worker at the local level. Currently, she is serving as the president of Kunnamangalam Grampanchayat.
2. Preeta Harit
The Dalit candidate of Congress is contesting from Agra, is an ex-Indian Revenue Service officer, and is the founder of Bahujan Samyak Sangathan. Born in a humble family in Haryana, she became a staunch Ambedkarite after a harrowing incident of being forced to declare her caste back in school. With much grit and determination, she completed her education, earning a graduate degree in History and qualifying the civil services at the mere age of 22. She works for the cause of the Dalits, and her Facebook page has enlisted the various programs that her organisation runs.
3. Sneha Kale
She is the first transgender woman to contest elections independently from Mumbai. Despite being a graduate, she had to go into begging to make her ends meet. If elected, she wants to fight for the rights of the transgender people whose grievances are not amply addressed. She was encouraged by the social activist, Vilas Rupvate who works for Maharashtra Niradhar Devadasi Mahila Sanghathana to contest the elections.
4. Chirpi Bhawani
A member of Kinnar Akhada, she will be contesting from Prayagraj constituency on behalf of Aam Aadmi Party, one of the two parties to have fielded a transgender candidate. Bhawani is a social activist and has also served in the capacity of a jury of the Delhi International Film Festival.
5. Kajal Nayak
The other party to represent the interests of the transgender community is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It has pitted Kajal Nayak to contest from the Korei assembly seat in Jaipur district.
6. Naresh Jayshwal
Naresh will be contesting independently from Ahmedabad East, against Congress candidate, Gita Patil. She is Gujarat’s first transgender candidate who is contesting the LS polls.
7. Dr. Aruna Mali
A member of Vanchit Bahujan Agdhi (VBA), she is a research scholar with a PhD in Plant and Life Sciences. She will be contesting from Kolhapur and if elected, wishes to focus on the malady of unemployment, as she herself has suffered from it. She was one of the key figures who fought for the rights of women to enter the inner sanctum of the historical Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur.
8. Suman Koli
As another candidate pitched by the Vanchit Bahujan Agdhi, she will be contesting elections from Rajgad. A member of Akhil Bhartiya Koli Samaj, she was instrumental in setting up 350 mahila mandals in Panvel.
9. Kiran Rodge Patankar
A singer by profession, she will be contesting the LS polls from Ramtek on behalf of the Vanchit Bahujan Agdhi. A Buddhist, she strongly espouses Ambedkarite values and most of her songs are related to his life and works.
10. Anjali Bawiskar
Hailing from the Shimpi community and having served as the district president of All India Shimpi Samaj, she will be contesting elections from Jalgaon on behalf of the Vanchit Bahujan Agdhi.
11. Jatin Mummy
As a candidate from the Jogati Kinnar Samaj, she is contesting from the Mumbai Northeast seat. If elected, she seeks to implement the NALSA judgement for the improvement in the living conditions of the Kinnar community.
Radha who is an independent candidate, is also Tamil Nadu’s only transgender candidate. Highly educated, Radha works as a cook to make ends meet. Local water crisis, garbage and drainage issues are causes that are close to her heart. If elected, she wishes to focus on unemployment, sexual abuse and representation of her community.
In case we have missed out on adding any Dalit, Bahujan, and trans women candidates contesting in the current elections to our listicle, please let us know in the comments section.