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Eunuchs to contest in Orissa poll
Published on 17 Mar. 2009 11:49 PM IST
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Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik and Congress veteran Janaki Ballav Patnaik will face unusual rivals in this year’s assembly election in Orissa. The eunuchs’ association will field candidates against these leaders in order to embarrass them for their “apathy” towards the common man. “We are set to field candidates against the chief minister, Congress veteran leader Janaki Babu (former chief minister J.B. Patnaik) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Biswabhusan Harichandan. All the three leading parties are neglecting eunuchs in the state and this is the best way to fight for our rights,” said Pratap Sahu, president of the All Orissa Eunuchs’ Association. “So far we have finalized at least one seat - Bolagarh (in Khurda district) - from where Janaki Babu is expected to fight elections. The rest two seats will be finalized depending upon the BJP and BJD finalization of candidates,” Sahu told IANS. The other two constituencies from where the ‘third sex’ is gearing to field candidates are Bhubaneswar (Harichandan will contest from this constituency) and Aska (from where the chief minister is expected to contest). Orissa is home to over 15,000 transgender people. Among districts, there are a maximum number of eunuchs in Sambalpur (2,500). Cuttack and Bhubaneswar too has nearly 1,000 such citizens each. “All the members will campaign for our candidates. Let me assure we will field educated candidates,” he assured. “We want to embarrass the political leaders for their apathy towards the common man.” In Orissa, eunuchs are recognized as females and face major hurdles in casting votes. “Though we have voting rights, there is a lot of humiliation involved in the process. We have approached all the three big parties in the state to give eunuchs the status of third gender. But nothing has been done. “We demand that in the government forms, ballot papers and even electoral rolls, the government must give three options as FMT (female, male and third sex),” Sahu explained. He said the state should learn from the Tamil Nadu experience. “Tamil Nadu has recognized eunuchs as third sex. Why can’t Orissa do it? If including a word can dissuade hatred, then what’s wrong in doing it quickly.” He said Lalu Prasad (railway minister) has patronized eunuchs in Himachal Pradesh and Bihar. “If other political parties can take pride in the fact that they are giving transgender their due respect, then why can not our politicians do the same?

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