CHENNAI: A few weeks after Khushbu Sundar, national spokesperson of the Congress, left the party to join the BJP, her colleague, Apsara Reddy, who was the first transgender national general secretary of the Congress women’s wing, has decided to join the BJP’s ally AIADMK in the presence of party top brass Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam. Indeed, she is returning to the AIADMK fold after a gap of around three years.
Talking to The New Indian Express just ahead of joining the AIADMK, Reddy said, “I really feel that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is providing Amma’s rule. I strongly believe that a transgender woman will get due recognition in the AIADMK because I experienced it during the times of Amma,” Reddy added. However, Reddy said she was not expecting any position in the AIADMK but was willing to serve sincerely in whatever post was assigned to her.
Recalling her days in the AIADMK, Reddy said, “I came into politics because of Madam J Jayalalithaa. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and their entire council of Ministers have done a phenomenal job during the COVID-19 period. And the recent measure of providing 7.5 percent reservation for government school students who clear NEET is a significant step for the welfare of rural students in Tamil Nadu.”
She also said women are not given due importance in the Congress. “Particularly, I wish to say that the 'high command politics' of the Congress will never be suitable for Tamil Nadu. In the Congress, everything is driven by the party’s national leadership. So, locally, the party is very weak. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, people wish that leaders reach out to them with welfare schemes. If I want to do something for the people of Tamil Nadu, I have to be with a political party from this state. So, I am returning to the AIADMK,” she added.
She recalled that during the COVID-19 times, she along with her colleagues were helping the public, especially transgenders who were in need of assistance. Reddy said she had also worked with the families of child abuse victims in the past.
Explaining why she joined the Congress last year, Reddy said, “After the demise of Amma (J Jayalalithaa), there was a lot of confusion in the AIADMK and I did not want to make any comment on any of the factions at that time. So, I joined the Congress to continue my services to the people.”
Asked why she chose to join the AIADMK at this time, Reddy said, “I feel that the present AIADMK government should continue after the 2021 Assembly elections. So, I want to strengthen the hands of this government and tell the people about the good work the AIADMK is doing because it deserves to retain power."
After a brief stint in the BJP for less than a month in 2016, Reddy joined the AIADMK in the presence of the then general secretary J Jayalalitha who made her the national spokesperson of the party. During the campaign for the 2016 Assembly elections, Reddy canvassed votes for the AIADMK by addressing public meetings in fluent Tamil. After the death of Jayalaltihaa, Reddy came out in support of VK Sasikala and interviewed her for the first time in an English magazine. She also campaigned for the AIADMK in the RK Nagar byelection in December 2017.
Reddy has worked with The New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle and The Hindu as a journalist. She has worked with BBC World Service London. With a BA from Monash University, Australia and an MA from City University, London, Reddy has also addressed the European Parliament and delivered keynote speeches at universities like Princeton University in the US. She has been working in the field of child abuse and transgender empowerment. She is a vocal champion of women’s rights and has organised workshops and protests to convey her message of gender justice.