Manipur election results 2017: Irom Sharmila's defeat conveys a strong message

S V Krishnamachari
assembly election results 2017, manipur election results 2017, Irom Sharmila, irom sharmila new party, PRAJA or the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance, manipur news, manipur economic blockade,

Irom Sharmila Chanu, the indefatigable lady who was on a hunger strike for 16 years before breaking it last August, lost to sitting Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in Thoubal, Manipur. 

Read: Manipur, Goa election results 2017 live

Contesting as a candidate of the Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA/PRAJA), an outfit that she floated in October last year, the "Iron Lady" polled just 90 votes as against more than 18,649 votes that the 69-year-old Singh got.

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Why did the woman, who protested against the imposition of AFSPA for such a long period, lose, despite being supported by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) comprising six parties including CPI, CPIM, JDU and AAP?

The reasons are not far to seek.

Too little time to take on the formidable rival, the Congress, led by Singh, who has ruled for two terms and looks likely to get a third. Four to five months was too short a period for a new party to prepare for the hustle and bustle of elections that requires intensive campaigning. 

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But the lady could give a tough competition to rivals in the next 5-10 years, as she gets ready to take on entrenched political parties like the Congress and a resurgent BJP.

Meanwhile, there is a larger message for the country, especially those who seek "freedom" (azaadi) under various pretexts. 

Despite being a new outfit, the PRJA was a victim of violence during polls. Her party's convenor, Erendro Leichombam, was attacked by unknown assailants on Saturday, the first phase of elections on March 4. 

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"Dear friends, I am doing fine. I had a cut in my neck after they dragged me out of my car and hit me with our PRJA flag. I had a little bleeding for a time but it's fine now; no stitches. Fortunately, no broken bones either. I'm totally good now. Please don't worry, I'm absolutely well! We have taken the doctors report and have filed an FIR against these coward gundas," he wrote on his Facebook page.