This Article is From Mar 09, 2017

Manipur Elections 2017: Irom Sharmila Can Bring Change In Manipur, Say Supporters

Manipur Elections 2017: Irom Sharmila will contest against Manipur Chief Minister at his turf, Thoubal.

Thoubal: Activist Irom Sharmila's fight against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress in his Thoubal constituency is being closely watched in Manipur. Irom Sharmila, the feisty activist of Manipur, who recently launched her party PRAJA or the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance, dropped her hat in the poll ring to take the fight against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA politically and is contesting against three-time Chief Minister of the Congress.

"The local communities are happy and positive about my new step. They want to see change and they are fed up of the Congress," said Ms Sharmila.

Unlike for Mr Singh, Thoubal is not her home, but many have warmed up to her egalitarian ways. Wider public sentiment, however, still remains divided between the leaders.

Supporters of Ms Sharmila look at her as someone capable of ushering in change, while those on Mr Singh's side are confident that he will win.

"Ibobi Singh has won several times. But now with Sharmila, we feel there can be a real change. With her fight against AFSPA in the assembly, the situation might improve," said a local voter Kamala Devi.

"We have heard about three candidates but it is Ibobi Singh who is going to win," said Thoubal resident Ashok Singh.

After Ms Sharmila ended her 16-year-long fast in protest against alleged army atrocities in Manipur, she had vowed to continue her crusade politically.

Then, she had received both flak and praise for her move to end the fast, but she chose to embark on the journey undeterred. People from her party also believe that her style of campaign is quite "unlike the regular netas".

"The down-to-earth leader went around her constituency, met people and heard about their issues," said James Mayengbam, one of the top functionaries of PRAJA.