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16 Apr, 2009 18:36

Transsexual runs for Indian presidency

There is no shortage of candidates in the Indian presidential election, including one 45-year-old transsexual, who says it’s her sexual identity that will defeat the political heavyweights.

Election fever is raging in India. Voting has ended on the first day of elections. Officials say that 60 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots across 124 constituencies. More than 140  million people were eligible to vote on Thursday.

While the numbers involved are vast it's also about the individual. Daya Rani Kinnar is set to clash with political heavyweights. She is not only an independent candidate, but also a transsexual.

Unlike other candidates who run their campaign on the basis of their vast political experience, newcomer Rani Kinnar says her mixed sexual identity is her main selling point.

“Why are people with me? Because other politicians fill their homes and cupboards. And I have no children, husband, wife or heirs. Whatever family I have is these people and I live off these people and I will fight for these people with the politicians who have not delivered on their promises,” Daya Rani Kinnar said.

Living with ten other transsexuals in a huge bungalow, the illiterate Daya Rani has touched hearts and minds of many potential voters.

Life for the transgender community in India is tough, with the majority reliant on begging as a means of living. For her part, Daya Rani says she needs no money to fund her campaign.

She believes that while her opponents may have large sums to spend on their campaigns, she has something better – the public’s affection.

“They are ready to give me money, but I have told them that I don’t want notes – I want your votes. People have told me that their heart and money is with me,” Daya Rani Kinnar said.

However, her opponents are not taking her seriously saying she is not even close to getting enough support to beat them. Irrespective of the outcome she has become a symbol of change in the normally conservative Indian society.

Thursday's voting was disrupted by Maoist militants in central and eastern states. The violence left at least 17 people dead  – including police, polling officials, soldiers and civilians. Three election officials were kidnapped.