‘She’ll think for everyone’ — flowers & hope as Bobby Kinnar becomes Delhi’s 1st trans councillor
AAP’s Bobby Kinnar, a well-known community leader who has worked with local groups for past 15 years & organised rations for poor during lockdown, was elected from Sultanpuri-A ward.
New Delhi: Bobby Kinnar can barely stand upright beneath the weight of garlands. The air around her is charged with excitement: She’s just become the first transwoman to win a seat in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Fireworks go off above her and flowers rain down on her. People eagerly reach to garland her as her convoy passes by. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept the MCD polls on 7 December, wresting power from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after 15 years, and Bobby is the star of the show.
Her grey sweater is hardly visible under a mass of flower and cash garlands — a woman standing next to her periodically takes them off her and stashes them into a huge plastic bag. The rally is snaking its way slowly across Sultanpuri A Ward, the seat where Bobi has just been elected. The crowds thronging her convoy might be slowing her down but she greets and thanks every person who reaches out.
A few kilometres away, celebrations haven’t stopped outside the offices of Aarohan Society, an NGO working for the transgender community in northwest Delhi.
Members and workers of the society have been dancing all morning to loud music and announcing on their loudspeaker that a transwoman has won the MCD election.
“More than the victory, it’s the acceptance that we’re celebrating,” said Princy, a transwoman in Sultanpuri. “She’s trans but society still voted for her. This proves that change is happening — and from right here in northwest Delhi, Sultanpuri.”
Celebrations in Sultanpuri
When the garlands pile up on her neck, Bobby garlands those reaching out to her — one 65-year-old woman, Parvati, gets emotional as Bobby insists on returning it. “She’s the best,” says Parvati, grinning toothily and clutching the flowers. “She’ll think for everyone.”
Bobi stands at the back of a car, surrounded by party workers. The joint rally is being taken out by local AAP MLA Mukesh Ahlawat, who’s in the lead, followed by the winners in Kirari, Mangalpuri, and Sultanpuri — Ramesh Chand, Daulat Pawar, and Bobby, respectively.
The road is choked with people waiting to see their new MCD representatives.
Bobby’s social work hasn’t been restricted to the transgender community: She’s well known as a community leader and has been working in association with several local groups for the past 15 years. She’s especially well known for organising rations for poor people in Sultanpuri during the coronavirus lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
Mowgli, a local dhol player in Sultanpuri, takes a break from loudly leading the rally with rousing music to have a swig of water. “Whoever goes to her house never leaves empty-handed, you know,” he said. “She organised rations during lockdown and she’s taken care of all the women in the area.”
He tries to lower his voice — but the loud celebrations around him make it a worthless exercise. “I heard she got the most expensive ticket!” he ends up shouting. “I’ve also heard she’s a good guru nayak too,” he adds, referring to the fact that Bobby is a ‘mother’ to at least 50-60 transwomen in the area.” She already does so much seva,” says AAP volunteer Bhagat Singh, an electrician in Sultanpuri. “Now that she has government support, she can do even more.”
Back at Ahlawat’s office at Jalebi Chowk, Sultanpuri — where the rally is expected to converge — local volunteers are chatting about AAP’s unexpected victory.
“Whose was the biggest win?” asks someone. “Bobbyji‘s, of course,” comes the reply.
‘Chodo kal ki baatein’
Bobby wants to push for Delhi’s Transgender Welfare Board to step up and widen their scope, according to members of Aarohan. And they have full faith in her.
When they heard that she’d won, members and workers at the NGO immediately turned up the music and danced to songs like ‘Aaya Munni Ke Bari’ and ‘Chodo Kal Ki Baatein’, a famous patriotic song from Hum Hindustani. Members of the community are still waiting to meet and congratulate her — she’s has been so busy that they haven’t been able to yet.
Originally from the nearby area of Kirari, Bobby dropped out of school at the age of 14. The transwomen in her ‘family’ — her cheles (followers)— take blessings from the local residents of Kirari, which has helped raise her profile in the area.
“She’s proved that she can work beyond the transgender community, and is an example that trans people can be more than just performers or beggars,” said Pushpa, a counsellor at Aarohan Society.
Pushpa says that she last met Bobby 15 days ago and that she seemed extremely worried — she looked like she hadn’t slept in days. “She must be so happy now,” smiles Pushpa. “We hope she does something for the transgender community, and can take up this cause properly with the government.”
Pushpa stops to inform a shopkeeper that Bobby has won. “Oh,” he responds. Earlier that morning, another shopkeeper had dismissed Bobby by saying “a hijra could never win an election,” according to Pushpa.
“This is great for us,” says Annu, a 20-year-old transwoman who is currently trying to become a hairstylist. “Maybe even I’ll stand for elections now!”
Courtesy : The Print
Note: This news piece was originally published in theprint.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights .