Manipur 2017

Will never contest polls again: Irom

Irom Sharmila   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

After taking a beating in the Manipur elections, human rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu announced on Saturday that she will “quit politics”.

Ms. Sharmila, 44, contested from Thoubal against Congress Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and secured only 90 votes, less than the votes polled in favour of NOTA.

On Saturday, the activist, known for her 16-year-old fast demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), sat alone at her modest house in Imphal, without any supporter by her side. Wrapped in a red and white shawl, tears ran down her eyes as she told journalists “people have let me down”.

“I am fed up with politics after seeing the results. I did campaign in Thoubal. People were showing sympathy. I cannot understand this contraction, the contradiction of hearts and minds,” Ms. Sharmila said. She said she was in touch with her long-time friend Desmond Coutinho, a British citizen of Indian origin, but had not informed him about her electoral loss.

Meditation on cards

Ms. Sharmila said her immediate plan involves visiting an ashram “somewhere in Kerala or Bangalore for solitary meditation and self-realisation”. “After this, I want to lobby for repealing of the AFSPA across the world,” she said.

After ending her 16-year-old hunger strike in August 2016, she announced her decision to take a plunge into electoral politics.

Ms. Sharmila, who contested as a candidate of the Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance, said she wished that the party survives. Political observers feel that lack of organisation and resources came as a major roadblock for her.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 3:42:01 AM |

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