Hoping to be the voice of the underdog

S. Veena being greeted by her family and friends after she filed her nomination papers in Bangalore on Monday.  

Chitra V. Ramani

S. Veena, a transsexual woman, is contesting from Okalipuram ward

Bangalore: “I have cleared the first hurdle. I have already begun working in Okalipuram ward, from where I am contesting, for the past three months,” said S. Veena, a transsexual woman.

Okalipuram ward, which comes under the Gandhi Nagar Assembly Constituency, has been reserved for Scheduled Castes (woman).

Veena filed her nomination papers at the Gandhinagar office on Monday as an independent candidate with support from Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

The vedike is a platform of pro-people thinkers, organisations, movements and alliances who are all working for an equal and just society.

Members from the sexuality minority communities went in a procession with Veena to the nomination centre.

They wished her luck when she went in with four proposers, including her mother, who suggested her candidature.

After she filed her nomination papers, she was greeted with applause and much cheer by those who were waiting outside.

Drawing inspiration from Shabnam Mousi, a Hijra from Shahdol district in Madhya Pradesh, who was MLA for almost four-and-half years, Veena said that she knows the areas that need maximum attention in the ward, having lived there all her life.

“I have lived in a slum and have a deep understanding of the challenges that the urban poor face on a daily basis. I hope to be their voice and will fight to secure their rights,” she said.

Veena said that she has the complete backing of her family. “I am blessed with a family which is supportive. I was the programme coordinator at Samara, an organisation working for sexuality minorities, and vice-president of Karnataka Sex Workers Union. I quit my job and began working in the ward, fighting to secure the rights and entitlements of the poor,” she added.

If elected, she said that she will hold monthly meetings with the residents of the ward to take stock of the problems faced by them and address their needs. “I will make information public and transparent the monthly fund sanctions and their utilisation. I will also raise problems faced by the ward in the BBMP Council meetings,” she said.

Asked about her focus areas, Veena confidently said she would concentrate on improvement of facilities in slums, development of women and children. She also said she would work for the social, educational, economic and cultural development of the ward.