Salma is like any normal candidate fighting for issues!
Vellore, May 3: A transexual, in the fray in Vellore is constituency in the May eight elections to Tamil Nadu assembly, attracting the attention of voters during campaigning in different areas of the constituency.
The Independent candidate S Salma, popularly known as ''Auto Babu'' is also President of Vellore District Aravanigal (Eunuchs) Sangam told this correspondent that Vellore being the birth place, the hopes that voters would definitely extend support.
Salma, standing on Television symbol said the symbol was another advantage to secure votes from uneducated voters. Salma contested in the 2001 Municipal elections from Ward no 15 of the Vellore Municipality as a Congress supported Independent candidate, but lost by a wafer thin margin of three votes.
Salma did not approach any political party seeking a ticket, sensing that this would spark off 'political enmity.
Asked about the compulsion to contest in the elections, Salma said it was to support efforts for progress and development, and to serve the people.
''Eunuch's are also human beings but nobody respects this point of view'', Salma observed, adding they are not able to travel in buses, move around in public places. They are not recognised by society.
''To overcome all these problems, we should also share political power'' , Salma reasons!
Salma promises to address all relevent issues like roads and drinking water, non- availability of essential commodities in fair price shops and other people oriented problems. Salma has been getting good response during campaigning and is doing so in an autorickshaw fitted with public address system, taking it street by street, addressing the people near water pumps, places of worship, market places, approaching them with folded hands seeking a chance to serve them.
In some areas there are greetings like ''Hai salma why you are not coming to our area for campaigning, please come and ask for votes''.
The ever smiling Salma tells them politely, don't worry I will definitely come to your area.'' Asked why Salma's campaigning is without any support from her ilk, Salma explains they were ready to come but it can lead to unnecessary trouble. But I am assured of their votes, Salma said.
According to Salma, in Vellore constituency there were about 5000 eunuchs. But did not know exactly how many of their names were in the voters list.
The problems of eunuchs could be solved only if one of their ilk is elected to the assembly towards, Salma emphasised.
That there were 206844 voters including, 105118 women voters in Vellore constiuency. Salma's main oppponents were the Sitting MLA C Gananasekaran of Congress, Subramanian of Marumalarchi DMK, K Kalaiselvi of BJP, G G Ravi of Samajwadi Party and A Rajendian of Desiya Murpokku Dravida kazhagam (DMDK). Mohana, Managing Trustee of the South India Aravanigal Rights and Rehabilitation Centre, who is in the midst of making arrangements for their annual festival at Koovagam in Villupuram District, to be held on May nine, told this correspondent over phone from Tiruchirapalli that the Centre was happy to note that Salma is constesting in the elections and extended her ''advance congratulations to Salma''.
In fact, Mohana wanted to contest from any one of the assembly constituencies in Tiruchirapalli District. But, after hearing that Salma has filed her nominations, Mohana gave up her thought and decided not to contest this time. If Ms Salma wanted any assistance, the Centre is ready to extend all possible assistance to her, Mohana added.
Mohana said the eunuchs, who were contesting in local bodies elections in large number. Now Salma is the first eunuch contesting in the Tamil Nadu assembly elections and it is welcomed by us, Mohana added.
Mohana claimed that even in Northern states like Bhopal, Haryana and others some eunuches won assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Here such a situation will emerge hereafter, Mohana added.
Mohana said in Tamil Nadu there were about 2.5 lakh eunuchs of which about one lakh were having their voters identity cards.
Mohana said they will cast their votes to any political party that extends benifits and schemes for their betterment, such as, house site pattas, voting rights, ration cards, old age pension, vocational training, recognition from the Government as well from the society and Government job opportunities.
Among other social groups, there might be a divided view as to whom to vote for, but we will vote for those who guarantee our welfare, Mohana added.
Asked about the future activities of the centre, Mohana said they had planned to train the eunuchs in cultural events, auto and car driving, doll making, forming, Women Self Help Groups(SHG), among others, towards empowering the eunuichs, socially and economically.
The centre is planning to to file a suit against film producers, who demoralise the eunuchs by depicting them as an object of derision, instead of highlighting the problems faced by them, Mohana added.