How money and muscle power resulted in Irom Sharmila's ‘shocking’ defeat

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Imphal, March 13: This time, it was no secret how huge amount of money was poured into by big national political parties to fight the recently concluded Manipur Assembly elections 2017. Several advertisement campaigns along with 'big' posters of political outfits cropped out across the state during the election season.

There are also allegations that anti-social elements, including militant outfits, carried out canvassing for different parties. In such a scenario, the newly-formed political party-- Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance--headed by peace activist-turned-politician Irom Sharmila fought elections in three constituencies in the 60-member Manipur Assembly.

Irom Sharmila

The members of PRJA--with little money at their disposal--mostly carried out door-to-door campaigning to ask voters for their support. Irom, the iconic activist, who was on a hunger strike for 16 years against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act till last year before forming PRJA, campaigned riding a rickety bicycle.

Earlier, Irom alleged that she was offered Rs 36 crore by the Bharatiya Janata Party to contest elections as a member of the saffron party. Her allegations were naturally denied by the BJP. When the results were announced on Saturday, Irom managed to get just 90 votes. Irom contested the polls against incumbent chief minister and Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh from the Thoubal constituency.

The elections in the state took place in two phases--on March 4 and March 8. After the results were announced, an emotional Irom (44), with tears in her eyes, told Indian Express that she was never going to contest elections again in her life. Perhaps, it was not the defeat, but the way Manipur voted against her. Like you all, we are also wondering how could a well-known personality like Irom, who was on a hunger strike for 16 years to protest against the draconian AFSPA, be rejected in such a 'bad' manner by her own people.

Earlier, 'Iron Lady' of Manipur, Irom, said she is not much affected by the exit poll result, adding that in case of her defeat she will try again in the 2019 General Election. "I do not feel much affected by the result. It depends upon the people's mindset. I don't feel much affected by it, because people can still change their minds and everybody knows muscle and money power is being openly used by parties," she told ANI. "What we really need to be is the power to bring the change and make the difference from dark to light. In case of my defeat, I want to try in 2019 election," she added.

Erendro Leichombam, convenor of PRJA, announced Irom's decision to quit politics on social media. He said that it was her personal decision to quit politics, but Irom would continue supporting PRJA. He added that Irom made unprecedented sacrifice for justice.

"Let's us rejoice that out of this chaos has emerged an incorruptible voice of hope powered by young Manipur. Now, our real mission begins. We have sown the seed; let's nurture it until we awaken a giant democratic revolution in our homeland. One day, we shall overcome!" In their manifesto, PRJA members said that along with fighting against AFSPA, they want to introduce clean politics in the state.

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