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‘Innocent and affable’: LJP says fielding transgender a step towards Naya Bihar

Ram Darshan Prasad alias Munna Kinnar aka ‘Munna Bhai’, who claims to be a transgender, wants to give his entire salary as a legislator, if he were to become one, to the poor and needy.

“It’s not a political gimmick. I mean it. I don’t keep money with me. What people give me by virtue of their love is enough for me to sustain comfortably,” says Prasad, who prefers being addressed as a male.

In fact, Prasad’s affidavit, submitted to the election commission, also mentions him as “son” of Chhabila Prasad.

He, however, claims to be the first transgender to have been given a ticket by any registered political party for the legislative assembly elections in Bihar, beginning October 28.

The Lok Janshakti Party announced Prasad’s candidature from Hathua assembly constituency in Bihar’s Gopalganj district, while releasing its list of 53 candidates for the second phase polls, scheduled on November 3.

“I will give respect to all sections of the society. At the same time, I will also try to bring the people of my transgender community to the mainstream of society by initiating development schemes for them,” he adds, as he hops from one house to another during canvassing.

“Munna Bhai” is not new to politics. He has previously won the panchayat polls and was elected a ‘zila parshad’ (member of district board), but is yet to win an election for an assembly seat.

“I have been contesting the assembly elections since 2005 as an independent candidate. This is the first time a political party has given me a ticket to contest the assembly elections. I owe my gratitude to the late Ram Vilas Paswan ji and his son Chirag Paswan ji for this. Those of my community who contested assembly elections in the past, fought as independents,” says Prasad.

“I’ve won the panchayat polls once from ward number 8 of Phulwaria panchayat and again from ward number 16 of Hathua panchayat in Gopalganj district,” he says, exuding confidence of winning the assembly elections this time around.

“I am a person with modest living. I distribute among the needy whatever money I get from people who love me,” he says.

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So, how does he manage to bear the cost of campaigning?

“My supporters have lent me a chauffeur-driven vehicle for canvassing and they even refuel it. I have faith in people, who by way of donation give me Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per day,” adds Prasad.

The LJP is happy with its decision to field Prasad.

“Bihar first, Bihari first is not just an election slogan of our party. Our leader Chirag Paswan means it and has taken a pledge to work towards achieving the goal. Giving a transgender a ticket to contest the assembly polls is the first step towards making of a “Naya Bihar, Yuva Bihar” (new Bihar, youthful Bihar),” says party spokesperson Ashraf Ansari, also the president of the minority cell of the LJP’s Bihar unit.

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Prasad is shy of revealing his age.

“I will check the voter list before divulging my age,” he quips in response to a poser about his age. His affidavit, however, mentions him as 42 years old.

“He’s a very innocent and affable character in the area. He has always helped the needy. It’s not without reason that he has won three previous district board elections,” says Ansari.

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Refusing to be dragged into any controversy about the identity issue, Reshma Prasad, an expert member of the national council for transgender persons in New Delhi, says: “It will be a welcome step if any political party gives a person with transgender identity an assembly ticket to contest assembly polls.”

“No political party or coalition partners have mentioned in their respective manifestos, any development plan for the transgender. This pains us,” she rues.

In a first, the election commission appointed banker Monika Das, 32, a transgender woman, as presiding officer for Bihar polls. Earlier, in 2016, Riya Sarkar, a transgender woman, was appointed a polling officer in West Bengal.

As per the electoral roll, around 2,344 transgenders are eligible to cast their votes in upcoming assembly elections in Bihar.

The last of the three-phase polls culminates on November 7 and results will be declared on November 10.

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