Why Irom Sharmila Lost Her First, And Last, Election

Pauline Gross
March 21, 2017

Reports say Irom, who was on a hunger strike for 16 years against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act till last year, will spend a month in Attapadi, a tribal hamlet, near to Palakkad. Compared to the 18,649 votes polled in Ibobi's favour, only 90 people voted for Sharmila.

Irom celebrated her 45 birthday at the Santhigramam rehabilitation centre where her hosts prepared payasam (sweet dish) for her. Irom is accompanied by Najeema Beevi, the first Muslim woman from Manipur to contest an election. Both paths, of agitation and of electoral politics, seem to be closed to her now.

"I do not feel much affected by the result because people are yet to be given a chance..." On her birthday, one can only hope that Manipur remembers what the fearless fighter did for them and quickly forgets her political misadventure. But incredibly, many of those who had supported Irom turned their backs on her as soon as she ended her fast, including some members of her family. "It is such a symbolic day in my life today, coinciding with my first day in Kerala", she said. Sharmila knows she no longer has the backing of the people who once supported her in her struggle. Singh defeated her by a margin of 15,000 votes.

The gross abuses of human rights offered by this act are exactly what the Iron Lady of Manipur has been protesting for the most part of the 21st century.

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Her private matters aside, Sharmila has since said she will quit politics for good but will continue to fight AFSPA and extend her support to PRJA. She told media that she would take a decision on her future course of action only after her return.

Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress is the incumbent Chief Minister and he is gunning for a fourth consecutive term.

Hours after her defeat, an emotional Sharmila said she was fed up with politics and wanted to quit it, even though her fight against Afspa will continue.

Other reports by GizPress

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