Sharmila party hits campaign trail

Irom Sharmila's party, People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), after finalising five candidates for the Manipur Assembly elections, has gone into full campaign mode.

By Our Special Correspondent in Imphal
  • Published 19.01.17
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Irom Sharmila

Imphal, Jan. 18: Irom Sharmila's party, People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), after finalising five candidates for the Manipur Assembly elections, has gone into full campaign mode.

Manipur will go to the polls in two phases on March 4 and 8.

Sharmila had formed the party with a few young supporters to continue her struggle against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act politically after ending her nearly 16-year-long fast last year.

The party's convener, Erendro Leichombam, a former educationist, said PRJA had finalised five candidates, including two women, and the candidature of two more was under consideration.

Sharmila will contest against chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh in Thoubal, Erendro in Thangmeibandh, a city constituency, rights activist Najima Bibi in Wabagai constituency in Thoubal district, Bowang Kho, a former student leader, in Karong constituency of the Naga-dominated district of Senapati, and Md Ilyash, a municipal councillor, in Lilong constituency in Thoubal district.

The party's poll plank is based on three pillars - incorruptibility, people's voice and hope for change. "We are telling voters that we are incorruptible, we are your voice and we are their hope for change," Erendro said.

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 will seek donations from the people. Help has also come from the Manipuri diaspora and people from other parts of the country. For instance, Bollywood actress Renuka Shahane has donated Rs 50,000 to the PRJA fund.

Sharmila began her campaign in Thoubal constituency by meeting people, mostly women, in marketplaces and homes.

"I have toured my constituency four times, meeting people, talking about their problems, the state's issues and our struggle for justice and political change. Initially, people at the markets were taken by surprise when I approached them. And I think they accepted me finally," Sharmila told The Telegraph.

To those who said that she does not have a chance against Ibobi Singh, Sharmila said, "He (Ibobi Singh) has been the symbol of looting for 15 years. I have been the symbol of justice for 15 years. I am only asking you to choose between the two symbols." #

The party is also getting supports from IT experts who have created campaign video clips to promote the party. These clippings are being circulated on social networking sites and among friends. One video clip says until the PRJA comes to power, corruption will continue to be Manipur's bane.

The party will stage a street play in a week's time to convey social and political messages to the voters.

The Centre today asked the Manipur government to end the economic blockade on the state's supply lines to ensure peaceful elections next month and offered to send more paramilitary forces if required, sources in the Union home ministry said.

"We have asked the Manipur chief minister to ensure that normalcy is restored immediately as the state is going to polls in two phases on March 4 and 8. The Centre will send more paramilitary forces if required," said a senior North Block official.

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh had met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in the evening and had apprised him of the situation in the state.