Irom Sharmila, Manipur's Iron Lady touches base in Kerala for retreat after humbling electoral loss

Greeshma M
Irom Sharmila, Kerala visit, Manipur election

On Tuesday early morning, the tribal village of Attappadi in Palakkad district of Kerala woke up to receive 'a special guest'. Human rights activist and poet, Irom Sharmila, who has rarely stepped out of her north eastern state of Manipur, arrived to begin her quiet retreat in God's own country after the humiliating defeat in the just concluded state assembly elections. She is expected to spend more than a month in the tribal village.

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After turning down requests to contest the previous elections, Irom Sharmila this time contested from Thoubal assembly constituency against three-time chief minister, Okram Ibobi Singh. The electoral debut backfired when she could only garner 90 votes in the elections that Okram Ibobi won with 10,740 votes against his closest rival. Irom Sharmila's tally was lower than the votes received for NOTA.

Affectionately referred to as Mengoubi (the fair one), this inexorable lady had drawn the world's attention after going on a hunger strike for 16 years. She called it off in last August to float a new movement called Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA/PRAJA).

Following her humbling electoral loss, Iron Sharmila announced her decision to quit electoral politics before making the journey south. Before leaving for Kerala through Bengaluru on Monday, the Iron Lady thanked the people of Manipur through her Facebook page. In four words, she wrote: "Thanks for 90 votes." However, International Business Times India independently could not verify this page.

Meanwhile, politicians and celebrities of Kerala have expressed their joy by welcoming Irom Sharmila to God's own country. MA Baby, Political Bureau Member of Communist Party of India from Kerala wrote on Facebook: "Irom Sharmila is the symbol of the people in Manipur and other North East states of India who are waging a war against discrimination and the humiliation." Recalling her steadfast struggle of 16-years, Baby noted that a mere 90 votes does not make her struggle any less important.

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