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Irom Sharmila's new life

For 16 years Irom Sharmila tried to use the moral suasion of a hunger strike to gain the repeal of a law that granted the military impunity in her state of Manipur, India. It didn't work: she was reduced to the role of icon and symbol, going through the same motions year after year, without accomplishing her goal, while meanwhile her life slipped away.

Then last year, she did a remarkable thing: she ended her fast and declared she was going to enter politics to try to accomplish her goal that way. There are segments of the population who haven't been happy about that--they preferred her as an inspiring icon on a shelf; they don't want her "dirtied" by politics. But that hasn't deterred her. She's formed her own political party, People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance, and among the other candidates on the slate are Najima Bibi, the first Muslim woman to run for office in Manipur. Najima Bibi is an advocate for women's rights and the founder of a home for destitute women. Erendro Leichombam, another candidate, has worked for the United Nations Development Programme.

Erendro Leichombam, Irom Sharmila, and Najima Bibi, PRJA candidates

Source: Hindustan Times

Writing for firstpost.com, Amukhomba Ngangbam says,

The party's poll plank is based on three pillars - incorruptibility, people's voice and hope for change. The party's campaign style is different from the conventional big rallies, fanfare and flags. It's a door-to-door campaign, where party members visit houses and spend 10-15 minutes talking to available family members about Manipur's issues, the family's problems and the party's objectives.

Unlike other parties, which distribute cash during election campaigns, Sharmila's team seeks donations from the people.

To get from place to place, Sharmila has been bicycling:

Source: Hindustan Times

For a campaign symbol, they have been handing out whistles, with the idea that people can be whistleblowers.

Photo: Oinam Anand, for Indian Express

Manipur has layers of colonization and marginalization and corruption and political and other violence stewing in the pot, and what seems like a good idea to an outsider can be recognized as a disaster by someone in the know locally, and same in reverse with bad ideas, so I have no intention of commenting on PRJA's platform and what will work out best for Manipur.

However, I think candidates talking one on one with people is an excellent thing, and I am very happy for Sharmila in a personal way, as I think being in the world, meeting people, and trying to accomplish things with others is also an excellent thing.

The first round of elections is tomorrow! Whatever happens, I wish all the best for Sharmila as she takes on new tasks and challenges.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 6th, 2017 07:49 pm (UTC)
i like the whistle picture at the end, he looks like a referee

maybe he can keep the oppositions from fighting as is often the case..

good luck to the people in the election!

; '
Mar. 6th, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: whistles
I like the idea of the child as a referee too :-)

And yes--good wishes to everyone in Manipur, for sure.
Mar. 7th, 2017 06:05 am (UTC)
Re: whistles
you have my vote!

; )
Mar. 6th, 2017 08:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the second to last & third to last paragraphs. Indeed.
Mar. 6th, 2017 09:55 pm (UTC)
The problem with trying to reach conclusions about faraway-places' politics is that you have only top-level stories to listen to (or maybe, sometimes, one level of counterpoint)--whereas really you need to understand who everybody is, what things are important to them, how things have worked up to now, who's benefited and who hasn't, etc. etc. etc.
Mar. 6th, 2017 08:37 pm (UTC)
Here's wishing her much success!
Mar. 6th, 2017 09:56 pm (UTC)
I hope all our good wishes can, somehow, reach her.
Mar. 6th, 2017 09:26 pm (UTC)
Inspiring! Send me an absentee ballot, please.
Mar. 6th, 2017 09:57 pm (UTC)
Mar. 6th, 2017 10:53 pm (UTC)
That is good news! Thanks for keeping us updated.
Mar. 7th, 2017 02:58 am (UTC)
My pleasure!
Mar. 6th, 2017 11:46 pm (UTC)
Such an amazing woman!
Mar. 7th, 2017 02:58 am (UTC)
Definitely someone with a strong will.
Mar. 7th, 2017 01:53 am (UTC)
I hope she does well in the elections. She has the heart for what she is doing, for sure.
Mar. 7th, 2017 03:08 am (UTC)
She's up against moneyed interests, but I know from my own reaction to candidates who take the time to come around and speak to me, personally, that it can really make a difference in people's opinions. She may not succeed this time around, but she must be learning a whole lot, and people are learning about her, too, firsthand. If she's willing to keep it up, then even if she doesn't get anywhere this time, she may do better next time. Or, maybe she'll decide to try still yet another tack in helping people out. Or maybe she'll win! It might happen. I think it's pretty cool that she was able to connect up with that other woman, Najima, who seems to be another really independent, determined, dedicated person.
Mar. 7th, 2017 03:14 am (UTC)
Hmm, I left a long reply, but it isn't showing up. I hope she does well, too, while at the same time recognizing that it's very hard for newcomers to make headway in politics, especially when they're doing things differently. People in Manipur may decide that she just doesn't represent a practical option for them, but whatever the outcome, I really believe that the fact that she got out there and listened to people and gave them a chance to tell her what was on their minds has to be a good thing. And, they got to meet her, in the flesh. She wants to make life better for people in the area, and I'm sure she'll find a way to do that.
Mar. 7th, 2017 04:43 am (UTC)
I do too. And I wish I could send her a box of milk candies.

Thank you for telling us about her. :)
Mar. 7th, 2017 10:06 am (UTC)
My thumbs are clenched.
Mar. 8th, 2017 01:52 am (UTC)
I'll let you know what happens <3
Mar. 8th, 2017 09:37 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 8th, 2017 11:24 am (UTC)
Apparently we must wait for the results of the second phase of voting, which is (?) maybe (?) ongoing now.
Mar. 7th, 2017 09:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! This is wonderful - I love the photo of her on the bicycle! And the first round of elections is today, then? IWD? A good omen!! :)

Thank you a lot!
Mar. 8th, 2017 01:53 am (UTC)
I love the photo of her on the bicycle too--it's great. And Najima apparently goes around by bicycle too!
Mar. 9th, 2017 08:41 pm (UTC)
I hope she does well. Politics is not for the faint-hearted, and she is clearly not faint-hearted,
Mar. 10th, 2017 02:15 am (UTC)
I think she's a remarkable person indeed--imaginative, idiosyncratic, and very determined.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )



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