One of the biggest disappointments in the five-state assembly elections was the defeat of Irom Chanu Sharmila.
Manipur’s “Iron Lady” was defeated from Thoubal assembly constituency by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress party.
Late on Saturday, 44-year-old Sharmila announced that she will not contest elections any longer.
The defeat may have been apparent but the humiliation was in the number of votes she garnered – 90. Even the NOTA option got 143 votes signaling the near non-existence of Sharmila as a political force in Manipur.
It is quite ironic that for 16 long years, Sharmila fought against AFSPA using hunger strike as a weapon and lost to the man who has been CM of the state for 15 of those years.
The iconic rights activist told reporters that she wants to “quit politics”.
“I want to quit,” she said but added that her decision to quit might not have any bearing on her newly formed party, Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA).
The PRJA contested on three seats in the 60-member Manipur assembly but could not win any.
Sharmila said that she will take a sabbatical and move to an ashram. She added that she wants her party to continue functioning in the state with backing from the youth and that she’ll herself continue her fight against AFSPA.
Ruing that she couldn’t fight against differing mindsets, Sharmila also pointed out that she may have lost because of money and muscle power.
Sharmila had ended her hunger strike in August 2016 and formed the party seven months ago. One of the candidates from Sharmila’s party who fought and lost was Najima Bibi, a rights activist from Wabagai who faces threats from fundamentalists for trying to uplift the condition of Muslim women in the state.