‘I will never set foot in here again’, Irom Sharmila Chanu

‘I will never set foot in here again’, Irom Sharmila Chanu.

Mumbai: On Saturday, 11th March, Irom Sharmila Chanu who had been fasting from 2000 to last August said with her eyes brimming with tears, she announced that she id quitting politics. ‘I will never set foot in here again’, she declared.

Responding to this failure, Irom Sharmila wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday, ‘Thanks for 90 votes’.

All Sharmila had said was that the army should not rape women. All she said was that soldiers should not open fire on pedestrians, or declare 12-year-old children “terrorists” and shoot them in an encounter.

In the just concluded Assembly elections in 5 states, Mukhtar Abbas Ansari, the gangster-turned-politician, won from Mau by a huge margin of over 97000 votes. Incredibly, he earned his victory while sitting in a jail cell. Amarmani Tripathi’s son, Amanmani, won from jail too, after being convicted of murdering his wife. But Irom Sharmila, who waged a singular, life-defying struggle against AFSPA for 16 years, ended up with 90 votes.

Responding to her defeat, Sharmila posted a short but heartbreaking statement on her Facebook account:

Sharmila, in a statement to the media, also blamed the practice, which allows the corrupt to win elections through money power. She announced that she was quitting politics.

Ahead of the elections, Sharmila had also revealed that the BJP had offered her Rs 36 crore to contest the elections on the saffron party’s ticket after she ended her fast, a claim denied by the party.

In order to meet the party’s monetary requirements, PRJA took to crowdfunding online to raise funds. However, with just 90 votes, it seems Sharmila was eventually abandoned even by many of those who funded her.

“I am fed up with this political system. I have decided to quit active politics. I will move to south India as I need to calm my mind,” Sharmila told PTI after the election.

“But I will continue my fight against AFSPA until and unless it is repealed. But I will fight as a social activist,” she said.

Her party, the People’s Resurgence and Justice Party (PRJA), has said that it will continue to fight elections without her. Sharmila has pledged moral support to the party.

But Sharmila’s struggle has probably reached a dead end. Where does she go from here? She fasted for 16 years, and then she lost an election badly. Both paths, of agitation and of electoral politics, seem to be closed to her now. Through what new methods can she continue her struggle? Only time will tell.

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