A total of 3,584 candidates filed their nomination for the upcoming Telangana Assembly polls, and among them was only one member of the trans community – trans woman Chandramukhi Muvvala, who is contesting from the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad on a Bahujan Left Front (BLF) ticket. She will be taking on bigwigs such as the BJP’s Raja Singh and Congress’ Mukesh Goud.
Chandramukhi, a well-known face in Hyderabad’s trans community, tells TNM that the reason she chose to enter politics was because no policy-level changes were being brought into effect by the politicians in power, and that she wants a seat at the table.
“[I chose to enter] politics because when we ask for policy-level changes, politicians only promise. They are not trying to make policy-level changes for the benefit of the trans or LGBTQ community. I want to sit there and ask them why they are not doing things, and demand that they start doing them now,” she says.
While the seed to do something related to politics was planted four years ago, Chandramukhi didn’t think she would actually run for MLA, but only that she would canvass for and promote a party.
“I thought I'll canvass for some party and I'll make my work, words, or a member of my community a part of it. But I got a BLF ticket and my entire community was happy. It is the first time in both the Telugu states that a member of the trans community has got a ticket from a party,” she says.
Goshamahal, the constituency where Chandramukhi is contesting from, comprises 7 divisions – Dattatreya Nagar, Begum Bazar, Gunfoundry, Mangalhat, Goshamahal, Begum Bazar and Jam Bagh. The area suffers from civic issues, for which locals blame the incumbent BJP MLA Raja Singh, and local issues are what Chandramukhi aims to give her attention to.
“I'm not promising them the world and I won’t promise to provide each and every person with a job and that I will do everything. Road facility is terrible, roadside areas and by-lanes are in bad shape, housing schemes are bad; we don't even have water facilities in some areas. Drainage collection is bad and there is a division between the rich and the poor. I will remove that first,” she says.
Chandramukhi says that levels of education among children in the area is low and that it has child labour.
“I'm transgender and I never said that I'll only work for trans people. I have been part of women’s issues, children's rights and in Goshamahal, I have seen a lot of child labour. I want to curb child labour. Education must be good in this constituency,” she adds.
Chandramukhi emphasises that in comparison to other areas, Goshamahal is friendly to members of the trans community, which is one of the reasons she chose to contest from the constituency.
“Senior members of the trans community have settled in Goshamahal. The area is very friendly to the community because all women know transgender persons and we know what they do daily. People from the Marwadi community used to take blessings from us and it's a good thing for us. They ask for us blessings and even we need their support. We give blessings regularly – for whatever function that happens in the families we go, bless them and dance – that kind of friendly relationship exists with the people of Goshamahal constituency,” she says.
“People who live in the slums have always been friendly with us because we also belong to the slum. We are with the slum, working with them and eating with them. So, I thought that Goshamahal will be the best place to contest,” she adds.
When it comes to the rights of the trans community with respect to the constituency, she says, “There are no housing schemes for trans persons. They don't have information about the government's welfare schemes, and whether or not they are voting is also an issue for us. Some people don't have voter ID cards. We have to look into all of it.”
Regardless of whether she wins or loses, Chandramukhi says that efforts will be on for one thing – the implementation of the 2014 Supreme Court judgement in the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, known as the NALSA judgement.
“The NALSA judgement should be implemented, and I'll put my heart and soul into it. When it is implemented, Telangana's trans community will get whatever they need. I'll do as much as I can to ensure that each point of it is implemented,” says Chandramukhi.