Among the 13 candidates in the fray for October 15 assembly polls for the Shirur seat in Pune district, 30-year-old Sandip Gire stands apart. Gire is perhaps the only transgender contesting election across the 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra.
“Voters can be assured that they would not witness dynastic politics if individuals like me win since we have no progeny. I have no spouse or children against whose names I would amass wealth after becoming an MLA like other politicians,” says Gire.
The 30-year old, who belongs to ‘Jan-jogati’ community that has been long associated with eunuchs, said he has point to prove by fighting the polls and registering a victory. “Today’s politicians are selfish and have their own interests to serve after getting elected. I am a selfless person, who wants to do my bit for the welfare of the society. Unlike other politicians, I will be there for each and everyone needing my help,” Gire told The Indian Express on Friday.
Gire, who has filed his nomination as an Independent and got the ‘ring’ as an election symbol, earns his living by doing traditional work such as performing ‘Jagaran gondhal’ and seeking ‘jogwa’.
“While filing my nomination papers, I have declared zero assets – which is a fact. I will manage my election expenditure through public funds only,” says Gire, who stays in small rented home in Holar Ali in the outskirt of Shirur along with a 22-year-old transgender friend. His mother lives separately with a widowed daughter-in-law.
With poll campaigning gathering momentum gradually, Gire is relying on a bunch of friends and a fleet of four vehicles for reaching out to voters. “My friends and well-wishers know how genuine I am in my intentions, and therefore take time out for for campaigning for me. Social activist Manik Bhadange, who runs a charitable trust for leprosy patients, is supporting me financially, besides others,” Gire said.
The vehicles used for campaigning carries a photo of Gire with folded hands and a slogan in Marathi that means history does not come into existence on its own, it has to be created.
Good roads and better infrastructure, adequate water and power supply, women safety and rehabilitation policy for hawkers are some of the top priorities listed in athe genda charted out by Gire. “I may win or lose, but the election has given me a platform to establish a connect with the people. I will take this relation forward even after elections. The Goddess Yelamma is with me,” said Gire, who had met social activist Anna Hazare to seek his blessings before filing his nomination papers.
“Anna asked me to do good work in public interest. The veteran social activist said I should reach to such a height that everyone would pat my back,” the 30-year old says, while also expressing his dislike for all established parties.
Gire feels the state should reserve at least five seats for the transgender community in the next election.