Transwoman Anjali Patil, aka Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan, has made history by winning the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat elections. Anjali contested from Bhadli Bhudruk seat in the Jalgaon taluka in the Nashik division and won by over 250 votes.
Elated with her victory, Anjali told MAKERS India, “I am so happy with the result. After so many years, someone from the transgender community has won the election in my village. It feels like a festival no less than Holi or Diwali here. People are giving me so much respect and dignity and it gives me a lot of confidence that people like me can also become something.”
A trans person's life is etched with several struggles in our society is not an understatement, but Anjali had to knock the Bombay High Court’s doors to get her nomination registered. The Bhadli Bhudruk seat, which was earlier a general seat, was reserved only for women this year, and so the State Election Commission rejected her nomination. But a determined Anjali did not accept her defeat easily and took the matter to court, which then ruled that a transgender person has the right to self-perceived gender identity.
“My voter ID card and my Aadhaar Card state that I am a woman and I have always identified as one. When I went to the Returning Officer with my nomination, he told me that I can’t apply since this seat is not for men and the men were also telling me that my documents are that of a woman if I want to apply for a general category seat. It was a struggle to get the approval from the Bombay High Court, but I am glad that it came through,” said the 42-year-old Anjali.
This isn’t the first time that Anjali has contested from Bhadli. She contested in the polls in 2016 as well when it was a general seat, but she lost by just 11 votes at that time, making the village’s verdict clear that she has their support in a big way.
“I was optimistic and didn’t choose to be a pessimist so as not to contest again. I was adamant that I wanted to get into politics and do something for people with the power that comes with the position.”
Now that Anjali has passed those hurdles and has emerged as a winner, she says she is focused on public service and not just serving her community.
“I have always loved helping people and I have always done things for others. I don’t have a family or relatives, and that’s why I entered politics so that I can find a family among the public by listening to their grievances and being of help,” she added.
Anjali has lived under poverty for most part of her life. Before contesting in the elections, she had to depend on begging, but it didn’t turn her sour towards people. She says it is because she has always stood by the people in her village and lent a helping hand to them. Today they have also shown their support to her.
She also spoke about what she went through during the election campaign. She said that when some people pushed her to file her nomination, two candidates also entered the contest and used slanderous remarks to influence the village folks. However, their influence did not last long.
While most candidates want to join bigger political parties after winning local elections, Anjali is not very keen on joining any national party. Instead, she says she is very fond of the local state party called Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)