From the moment she announced her decision to contest in the Lok Sabha elections as an Independent, her mobile phone kept ringing continuously. She answers queries of journalists from across the country diligently.
Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender rights activist, writer and an actor, on Wednesday announced in Puducherry that she would contest in this election from Villupuram constituency in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. She is likely to be among the very few contestants fighting in the national elections from the transgender community that faces discrimination and ridicule.
“I have great concern about our country and its future. People need to be served better. I know the problems of transgender community, women and children. I want to enter Parliament so as to effectively articulate their grievances,” says Kalki, founder of Sahothari Foundation, an organisation working for social, economic and political empowerment of the transgender community. On what motivated her to test her luck in the elections, she said she was not really happy to see the indifferent attitude of a section of politicians.
The marginalised, downtrodden and under privileged community had a long way to go to attain inclusive growth. Their concerns, should be brought to policymakers’ notice effectively, she said.
Asked whether it was to cross a milestone by entering Parliament as a Member from a transgender community, Kalki said she would be happy if she was able to make it. But her intention was not just to achieve a milestone but also to voice the concerns and issues of voiceless community in the Parliament.
“I don’t have money and muscle power to reach out to the people. But I have knowledge and courage to form strategies to reach out to them. I have the support of students and women,” says Ms. Kalki, who attended the swearing-in-ceremony of the then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir in 2012 on the invitation of President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Asked whether she was perturbed by the unreceptive people on streets when she went for canvassing, she said the attitude of people on transgender community had seen improvement.
She was confident that she would get good reception as she knew how to move with them.
On her gender identity, Kalki said that “it is not the primary factor. I want to be the representative of all people of Villupuram district, which is one of the most backward districts in the country.”
No wonder that Villupuram, which draws hundreds of transgenders from world over during the annual Koovagam Festival, has become the battleground for Kalki, a resident of Kottakkarai in Vanur block in the district.
Asked whether she was setting a precedent in this aspect, Ms. Kalki said that in 2000 Shabnam Mausi, a transgender, won the Lok Sabha poll in Madhya Pradesh but her victory was later declared invalid.