Transgender to take on Mamata Banerjee in Bengal polls

Kolkata: Adding a 'third' dimension to the West Bengal assembly polls and aspiring to be the voice of the society's "most deprived" section, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded two transgenders, including one against Trinamool Congress supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Ram Vilas Paswan-headed LJP announced its list of 63 candidates which includes Bobby Halder and Sankari Mondal, the first transgenders from the state to contest the polls.

The 39-year-old Halder would contest from Bhowanipore taking on Banerjee and Left Front-backed Congress nominee Deepa Dasmunsi.

Mandal, 30, would contest from Jadavpur constituency, against minister Manish Gupta of the Trinamool and former MP Sujon Chakraborty of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

"The transgender community is the most deprived and marginalised section of the society. Unless and until they themselves take up their cause, the condition will remain unchanged. So for the first time in Bengal, we have fielded two transgenders," LJP state convener Meera Chakraborty told IANS.

Unfazed by the presence of heavyweight rivals or the prospect of losing the polls, Halder said the motive to contest was to voice the concerns of the transgender community.

"I am not bothered about whether I lose or win. What is important is to raise the issues that we hijras (transgenders) face every day. The society, the country, claim to have progressed, but we are still looked down upon, ridiculed and not even considered humans.

"Contesting from the chief minister's constituency will afford me the opportunity of at least getting noticed," Haldar told IANS.

A resident of Joynagar in South 24 Parganas district, Haldar has been working for the welfare of the transgender community.

"There are over 30,000 transgenders in the state but not even 1,000 have been enlisted in the electoral list. This is one of the main issues that I will harping on," said Haldar.

Mondal, a resident of Baruipur in South 24 Parganas, as also Halder, are inspired by Manabi Bandopadhyay, India's first openly transgender college principal who took over the reins of Krishnagar Women's College in Nadia district last year.

According to the Election Commission, there are 758 voters in the 'third gender' category in the state, with two each in Bhowanipore and Jadavpur.

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