Rights activist Irom Sharmila is contesting against Manipur Chief Minister and Congress candidate Okram Ibobi Singh in the Assembly elections to be held next month. Since she has shown her willingness to join active politics, she has hit the headlines with controversies. She is known for her fight against Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA), Sharmila is a political greenhorn while Congress has been in power in Manipur for three successive terms under Ibobi Singh. In August last year, this ‘Iron Lady’ broke her 16-year-old hunger strike, the world’s longest such campaign, and declared that she wants to become the chief minister so that she could press for repeal of the contentious AFSPA.
While launching her party PRJA in October last year, Sharmila had said she would contest from two seats – Thoubal and Khurai. While she belongs to Khurai, Thoubal is the Assembly constituency of the chief minister. PRJA, was recently alloted ‘whistle’ as the party’s symbol, is likely to field altogether 10 candidates for the Assembly elections to be held on March 4 and 8.
Manipur will vote for 60 assembly constituencies which will be held in two phases, the counting of votes will take place on March 11. Whereas, BJP is leaving no stone unturned for coming to power in Manipur, however, Irom Sharmila has exposed that she was offered Rs. 36 crore to contest the elections on the BJP party’s ticket. Just after breaking her fast, she met a BJP leader who suggested that she will need lots of money depending on current system of politics. He told her that she will need on an average Rs. 36 crore for fighting the election. If she has no funds she has to generate the funds and there can be a way out if she contests elections on BJP ticket. This is what she has told media, but BJP denied any such interaction between her and any leader of the party. BJP leader Ram Madhav has, however, rubbished Sharmila’s claims.
The Iron Lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila, has reiterated her allegation that the BJP had offered her a ticket and to finance her campaign with Central funds — a hefty Rs. 36 crore. After lots of hullabaloo, she named a local BJP leader who had made the offer. The allegations of the activist — has triggered controversy, the alleged offer of Rs. 36 crore has become the biggest talking point in the on-going assembly elections in the state after she made the claim. Entire social media attacked BJP supporting the allegations of Sharmila. The Congress has alleged that the BJP offer shows, how the party is trying to poach people with money power.
Irom Sharmila, while she was on protest neither the state nor the centre had done anything to alleviate her protest. It took 16 years for her to realise that laws of this country is sometimes unhelpful. It is clear that unless you have political support for your movement, even 60 years fast will not help you. At last, Supreme Court had to come to her rescue. She ended her fast after the apex court judgement questioned the immunity enjoyed by the security personnel under AFSPA in disturbed areas. The Supreme Court is of the view that there is no concept of absolute immunity; from trial to the criminal court for Army man who commits an offence. Her story of entering politics is somewhat similar to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. In 2000, Parivartan filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding transparency in public dealings of the Income Tax Department, and also organised a Satyagraha outside the Chief Commissioner’s office. Kejriwal and other activists also stationed themselves outside the electricity department, asking visitors not to pay bribes and offered to help them in getting work done for free. The Delhi government enacted a state-level Right to Information (RTI) Act, which allowed the citizens to access government records for a small fee. Parivartan used RTI to help people get their work done in government departments without paying a bribe.
In 2002, the group obtained official reports on 68 public works projects in the area, and performed a community-led audit to expose misappropriations worth Rs. 7 million in 64 of the projects.
Along with other social activists like Anna Hazare, Aruna Roy and Shekhar Singh, Kejriwal came to be recognised as an important contributor to the campaign for a national-level Right to Information Act (enacted in 2005). He resigned from his job in February 2006. In 2012, he launched the Aam Aadmi Party, and the party won in the 2013 Delhi Legislative Assembly election. Following the election, he took charge as the Chief Minister of Delhi on 28 December 2013. Kejriwal resigned 49 days later, on 14 February 2014, stating he did so because of his minority government’s inability to pass his proposed anti-corruption legislation due to lack of support from other political parties. On 14 February 2015, he was sworn in as Chief Minister for a second term after his party emerged victorious in the Delhi Assembly election.
Since then, Congress and BJP tirelessly keep on attacking Arvind Kejriwal and his political party Aam Admi Party. Now here is one more activist, Irom Sharmila, who is giving nightmare to BJP and Congress in Manipur. Let’s wait and watch whether she makes it to power or not.
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