Sneha Kale first transgender contesting Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai, says enough begging for alms, give votes now

Mumbai: As the first transgender to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North Central constituency, Sneha Kale (27) is banking on transgender voters, who are backing her despite being an Independent candidate.

Kale wants to fight for the rights of the transgenders and neglected communities of the society, thereby paving the way for other transgender activists who want to make their efforts count. On Wednesday, Kale came accompanied by two supporters for the interview, just after having submitted some documents at the Collector’s Office in Bandra (East).

Dressed in a black sari and sporting a pink lipstick, she is prepared to face sitting Member of Parliament (MP) Poonam Mahajan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress leader Priya Dutt. Kale recognizes that being an independent candidate, she is falling short for funds and is relying on the transgender community who are campaigning on the streets with her.

Kale has adapted a rather novel way of campaigning, where her supporters are asking for votes instead of money. “Enough asking for money, now we are asking for votes. My supporters walk up to the people and clap, thereby asking for votes,” said Kale.  Her support also comes from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, she added.

Having suffered discrimination all through her childhood and schooling years, Kale is determined to fight for gender equality but also to embrace change for those rejected by society. Kale also faced a lot of flak for contesting Lok Sabha elections not only from the society but also from her own family. Even now, her parents and brother are opposing her decision.

Only her sisters are supporting her.Kale, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Bcom) degree from S.K. Somaiya College, has worked with an NGO, Ekta Foundation, as a counsellor. She now wants to raise her voice by contesting Lok Sabha elections and fight for the rights of the transgender and neglected communities.

Among the issues she will be fighting against are the problems faced by the widows, devadasis, backward classes and the national catastrophe of farmers committing suicide. Some of her many concerns include inflation, and equality for LGBT community in health, education and legal fields.

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