Kolkata/Chennai, April 7: Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, two heavyweight leaders and chief ministers of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, respectively, have a second similarity besides the fact that both are facing a tough anti-incumbency challenge in this year's Assembly elections.
Both the women leaders have a transgender among their rival candidates.
LJP fields transgender candidate against Mamata
The Lok Janshakti Party led by central minister Ram Vilas Paswan has fielded Bobby Haldar from Bhabanipur, the constituency of Chief Minister Banerjee in South Kolkata.
Thirty-nine-year-old Haldar will take on Left-backed Congress candidate Deepa Dasmunsi and BJP's Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand-nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in one of the biggest fights of this Assembly election scheduled on April 30. [When Mamata says "Please vote for me", there must be something unique]
The other transgender candidate the LJP has fielded in this election is Sankari Mondal, 30, who will take on the TMC's Manish Gupta, a minister, and Left's Sujan Chakraborty, a former MP.
Fielding transgenders against heavyweight candidates will give them a mileage
Sources in the LJP, which has fielded a total of 63 candidates in the Bengal election, said they decided to field transgender candidates since the community is the most deprived and marginalised section. Haldar, a resident of Joynagar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, said the aim is more to raise the concerns of the transgenders more than winning or losing.
Bengal has 758 voters in the "third category" in Bengal, said the Election Commission.
In TN, NTK fields a transgender candidate against Jayalalithaa
In Tamil Nadu, too, a 33-year-old transgender will take on Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in RK Nagar on May 16, when all 234 seats of the state will go to polls.
Like Haldar, C Devi is also the first-ever transgender candidate in Tamil Nadu Assembly election. She will represent the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) party. [Why Tamil Nadu will remain a barren land for BJP]
Devi, however, said like Haldar that contesting against the heavyweight opponent is not the real issue. Devi said she is standing for the people in the constituency and not against Jayalalithaa, who is looking to return to power for a record sixth time.
Devi, who hails from Salem and has worked with various NGOs, focuses on the empowerment of transgenders and sex workers. She also runs a charity for the homeless which now hosts over 60 people.
A member of the NTK for the past three years, Devi feels politics offers the best opportunity to reach out to people. Improvement of the poor, provision of clean potable water and better job opportunities for the people in RK Nagar will be her foremost priority.