Who is Madhu Bai? India’s first transgender Mayor in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh Municipal Corporation

Presently, she performs and dances during birth rituals and weddings alongside other hijras, or trans women

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Madhu Bai Kinnar scripted history on 4th January 2015 after she became India's first transgender Mayor in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh Municipal Corporation. In Madhu Bai's case, all odds were against her, however, the people went in her favour. This made the whole difference.

Who is Madhi Bai?

Madhu Bai holds an eighth-grade education and was formerly known as Naresh Chauhan. Madhu moved away from home as a teenager to be a part of the transgender society. She is a member of India's Dalit community.

Before joining office, Madhu Bai earned by doing odd jobs, performing in trains traveling the Howrah-Mumbai route. Singing and dancing on the streets of Raigarh and many more. With a budget of between 60,000 and 70,000 rupees, she campaigned for mayor and said that she only chose to contest when several irate locals insisted her for the same.

Rather than becoming a member of a political party, Madhu Kinnar wanted to operate as an independent leader. About nine months had passed since the Supreme Court's NALSA ruling, which granted transgender persons in India legal status, when she won the election on January 4, 2015. The Raigarh Municipal Corporation's inaugural meeting was postponed as a consequence of a walkout by Congress and BJP members.

However, Madhu returned to her previous life without a pension or government perks when her tenure ended in 2020. She performs and dances during birth rituals and weddings alongside other hijras, or trans women. Madhu has no plans to return to the political arena. She claims it's too divisive and that she is tired of it. "I fought, won and worked for the people.

In an industry where the LGBTQ population is still underrepresented, Madhu's brief but fruitful political career in India was exceptional. In a democracy where acceptance of sexual and gender diversity is growing and the community has achieved numerous victories, activists claim it is phenomenal. Judges ruled that lawmakers, not the legal system, should make changes to the legislation.

LGBTQ politicians, according to campaigners, are the best representatives of their group. However, not a single openly LGBTQ candidate has been fielded by any of the main political parties in this year's general election.

Writer and creator of Pink List India, the nation's first database of lawmakers that support LGBTQ+ rights, Anish Gawande says, "Queer people have been left out of conversations, told politics is not an avenue for them for so long." Madhu has the best understanding of this. She claims that winning over her opponents proved to be more difficult than winning over voters. She failed to secure a party ticket after spending days knocking on people's doors with her pals, pleading for money to support the campaign.

Elections in India are expensive, and it is far more expensive to run for office on your own without party support. But having been rejected by the two major political parties, she was at a loss for what to do.  She believed that leaders would take her seriously when she triumphed but unfortunately, they didn’t.

She claims that numerous party members left her first gathering. She claims that since he thought her dancing videos insulting, a local official threatened to slap her. In the beginning, Madhu also mentioned that she wasn't sure if it was appropriate for her to use the restroom for women in the presence of party workers.

"People loved me and my work, but rivals hated my guts," she claims. "Behind the ridicule and abuse, I know they were all thinking the same thing: 'How could a hijra be the mayor?'"

Madhu Bai says she is like a rainbow. She rose from a storm, fleetingly spread joy and then returned to the sky. "Who knows, maybe then the country will see a rainbow again."