The election is a season of surprises and this one has sprung the biggest so far. It is for the first time in Gujarat that a third gender candidate has filed her nomination form for a parliamentary election. Naresh Jaiswal aka Raju Mataji is contesting as an independent from Ahmedabad East for the better future of her community. Having faced humiliation and stigma throughout her life, the 28-year-old feels it is time that the voice of the third gender is heard, policies are formed taking them into consideration and their problems solved. She has earlier contested incorporation and assembly elections from the city.
Talking to Mirror in her small 10X8 ft room in Bar Ordi Wali Chawl in Bapunagar area of the city, Naresh told Mirror: “I have been meeting ends from the alms I receive from people. There was a time I dreamt of joining the army as I am well-built with a height of more than 6 ft. But the society would not accept me as a human being, forget anything else. Nobody gives us jobs or admission to educational institutions. People only have derogatory words for us.”
Naresh added, “What is our fault if God made us like this? Are we not human beings who have a right to life? I am contesting the election so that I can be a lawmaker and ensure our problems are solved too. The society must accept the third gender as humans and learn to respect them. They cannot be condemned to a life of begging and prostitution.”
She studied till class 10 at Bapunagar’s Balkrishna school and scored a distinction. “I campaign from 9 am to 9 pm. I go door to door as I do not have money to place advertisements. I earn Rs 200 a day from seeking alms. When I approached an autorickshaw driver for a tie-up, he asked for Rs 1,000 per day apart from Rs 1,500 for the sound system, but I cannot afford that. I got a few pamphlets printed for Rs 9,500 and that is the only election material I have. Besides, I need money to take care of my mother,” she said.
Naresh lives with her parents and five dogs. “My dogs are better than humans. They love unconditionally and accept people like us as we are.” At present, she is trying to learn English as she is confident of her victory. “I will be speaking English very soon in the parliament,” she said.