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Anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila routed, set to lose deposit in Manipur polls

© Provided by The Rahnuma Daily

The Manipur elections could go either way. While the Congress was leading in 11 of the 60 constituencies as of 11am on Saturday, the BJP had leads in 8 constituencies, and won one. It isn’t yet clear which party will run the government for the next five years in the state, one thing is certain: Irom Sharmila, the anti-AFSPA activist who has been tirelessly working against the special powers act for 17 years now, will not win.
Irom Sharmila, described as the Iron Lady of Manipur, contested under the banner of her People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance party from the Thoubal constituency. She got only 90 votes as of 11:15 am, and will lose her deposit in all likelihood.
She contested against the incumbent Chief Minister, Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress, who is leading from Thoubal with over 16,000 votes. It is likely that Ibobi Singh will win the constituency comfortably, as the person in the second place, Leitanthem Basanta Singh, has just over 7500 votes at the time of writing.
Sharmila’s massive defeat comes months after she called off her 16-year hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur. She has been fighting against the draconian law, and was force-fed through nasal tubes for 16 years, as she refused to eat or drink anything untill AFSPA was repealed.
In August 2016 however, Sharmila decided to call off her fast and changed her strategy. She announced that she would contest elections in Manipur, and while some people welcomed her decision, many in Manipur were unhappy.
Read: Irom Sharmila ends her 16-year fast, but does she have the political capital to fight on?
Several people had expressed shock when she decided to give up her fast, contest elections, and marry her fiancé, Desmond Coutinho.
Sunzu Bachaspatimayum wrote for TNM in August last year:

“Restive Manipur is divided over Irom Sharmila’s decision to end her fast and enter electoral politics. Besides being surprised by her decision, the state has by and large accepted it gracefully. However, her move to join politics and get married to her pen-pal turned fiancé, Desmond Coutinho, is harder to swallow for the people.
Certainly, her decision to join politics has been criticised with many refusing to comment and even some going to the extent of saying her statement desiring to become the Chief Minister is too far-fetched. Arun Singh, a doctor at JNIMS while accepting her decision to end fasting refused to support her as a politician. “Her decision to join politics is totally wrong. I’ll never support her as a candidate as she will never be able to achieve what she wants because politics is a number game and she simply does not have it.”

Enanble Notification: NoTNM Marquee: No

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