(With inputs from Angana Longjam)
While the whole nation has been saying unpleasant things about the electorates of Manipur for giving Irom Sharmila barely 90 votes, so meagre that the NOTA number of votes exceeded, almost concluding that the iconic activist-turned politician isn’t a big deal in Manipur. An agitated resident of Manipur who have been following the outburst of the aftermath of Sharmila’s result said, “We have Iron ladies in every Manipur household. She should remain an AFSPA activist or learn more about electoral politics. Ninety votes aren’t our fault. How naive she and Erendro Leichombam is. No offence, but poetess she should be and the investment banker turned politician Erendro Leichombam in a bank helping people exchange old notes with the new ones”.
Did Sharmila really wanted to win? One can only be sceptical. If she really wanted to win, she should have contested from another constituency. Maybe -Khurai-her home constituency and not Ibobi’s bastion. One can’t help pondering upon whether she did it for sheer publicity, then critics would say that her political life started with being a drama queen. And in the process, the electorates -86% voter turnout to be precise-gets a bad name.
Sharmila is no doubt a great activist but does that justify being a great potential administrator? Certainly No. People all over the internet are writing derogatory remarks about the electorates of Manipur and seem to suddenly have unflattering opinions about Manipur’s affair which is unfortunate. Derogatory remarks about the electorates even without possibly knowing what is the name of Sharmila’s party and what it is and when was it form or who heads it tells that the allegations of indifference or cruelty on the part of the electorates is unfounded. Does the people who assumes that Sharmila has been humiliated by the electorates knows about Manipur than their electorates? No, not possible.
A young resident of Imphal said , “ What one may possibly know is that Irom Sharmila fasted for years and years to repeal AFSPA just exactly like how Mary Kom is a great boxer from Manipur. Know the ground reality of my state and then give your opinions. Learn more about our culture and history other than just reading some vague articles or watching a racist Mary Kom movie. We are pretty sure we know our state well and the issues concerning it”.
Sharmila chose to contest in an election on her party (PRJA) ticket in a constituency called Thoubal which happens to be the outgoing and iconic CMO. Ibobi Singh’s stronghold. The Thoubal constituency is said to have been developed under his watch and nurturing. People in his constituency is said to have been given an easy access to jobs so much so that the three time CM have been accused of nepotism. Also, Sharmila’s party is barely six months old and to contest against an incumbent CM who have been in the post since 2002 was going to be a mammoth’s task anyway.
Again, it should be noted that a voter from another constituency where Sharmila’s party isn’t contesting cannot go and vote at Thoubal constituency. Thoubal is a small place relatively as compared to the whole state of Manipur and does not represent the mood of the state in entirety.
Manipur is at a low ebb with the economic blockade since November, 2016 with the resultant effects being the running out of all essential commodities. The tripartite talk that included the centre failed. At this juncture Manipuris are of the opinion that they want instant relief from that problem that have affected their daily lives. AFSPA is a political issue and the public memory being short-spanned, the misuse of it is already in their dormant back of their mind and thus although one acknowledge that novice Sharmila was a popular star candidate, people are sceptical if she was going to bring any change in terms of solving the basic issues faced by the public.