Fighting her third election, 63-year old Bharathi Kannamma is cheery as she campaigns and crisscrosses the busy lanes of Madurai South, her Assembly constituency. Shopkeepers, burqa-clad women, auto-drivers, and curious onlookers receive the promotional pamphlets which enlist Kannamma’s poll promises, and of course her symbol – Pot.
Though she is contesting as a candidate of the lesser-known New Generation People’s party, Kannamma is hopeful that she will be able to create an impact in the voters’ mind.
Accompanied by her team of LGBTQ community members, whom she refers to as her children, Kannamma expresses regret that there are just two Transgender candidates in the poll fray in Tamil Nadu.
Confident and expressive, she elaborates on the major points of her manifesto – Education for all (as much as they wish), a Government job per household (based on qualification), three meals a day, and medical expenses for those below the poverty line.
Ask her where the money for all these promises come from and she shares what she calls her Socialism-inspired poll promise, “Anyone who earns above Rs.50,000 a month must pay the remaining part as tax.”
“A large share of people are below the poverty line, for how long can a few well-off ones alone keep adding to their number of homes and car. I just need the votes of the poor people and that can make all the difference,” she says when quizzed about how this promise would be received by society.
Armed with her educational qualification which even puts mainstream politicians to shame, Kannamma is an inspiration for the transgender community and the ostracized. She has a Bachelors in Economics, Masters in Sociology, Diploma in Computer Engineering, and a Doctorate in Sociology.
When queried on how and why she forayed into politics despite all her qualifications, she told Zee media, “I speak six languages English, Tamil, Malayalam, Telegu, Kannada, and Saurashtra language. With all this, how can I stay at home? I need to achieve something.”
To the LGBTQ community, which is a little over 5lakh across India, she has a message, “Don’t spoil your life by getting into sex work or seeking alms, let’s live a life that sets examples for others”, she says with a confident gaze.
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