I’m Not Allowed to Work, Says Transgender Village Councillor
Angry villagers are awaiting the next councillor elections.
40-year-old Manimekalai, a councillor in the Anaicut assembly constituency in Vellore district, in Tamil Nadu alleges she is being deliberately ignored in the development of her village as she is a transgender woman.
She won the Ward No 8 seat of the Kanyambadi gram panchayat which has around 600 people.
She contested the polls in 2011 without the backing of any party and defeated the AIADMK-supported candidate by a margin of around 70 votes. “People voted for me expecting to help them,” Manimekalai says.
Since then, however, she says she hasn’t been able to do much for the people as neither the main councillor nor the MLA conducts any meetings with her to learn about the condition of the village.
She claimed that she has sent hundreds of lists about the requirements of her ward but received no response from her superiors.
Manimekalai claims government schemes such as Moovalur Ramamthirtham Ammaiyar Ninarvu (Rs 20,000 as wedding assistance scheme for girls from BPL families), the Sivagami Ammaiyar Memorial Child Protection Scheme (Rs 50,000 given as fixed deposit for girls from BPL families) and Tamil Nadu Pensioners’ Family Security Fund (Rs 25,000 for the family) and other schemes do not reach beneficiaries.
Because of this Manimekalai says she spends some of her own money in order to help people.
I provide Rs 2,000 for marriages of girls and when someone dies. I also give Rs 1,000 for the birth of girl child in the village.
Villagers feel helpless in such conditions. Alanchi (60), said, “If 100 grinders are given for the families, only 20 reach the people.”
Another grouse that people have is that they have to travel 3km just to get provisions as there is no fair price shop in the village.
Pointing at the government school which has students studying till Class V, Manimekalai claimed that she was buying uniforms and getting notebooks for the children.
Renovation of houses built by the government has fallen into disrepair. Sashi Kumar (35) says, “These houses have been built about 15 years ago by the government but no one comes to repair it even if the walls are broken,” said Sashi Kumar.
He added that Manimekalai was the one who helped him to setup his shop in the village when he was not finding any job.
“Only a few supporters of the AIADMK party receive the benefits,” Manimekalai claimed.
The angry villagers are just waiting for the next councillor elections, promising not to vote for the same main councillor who is backed by the AIADMK.
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