Irom Sharmila’s PRJA hoping to win elections by whistling Manipur’s conscience

Three-time incumbent chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress is among her rivals in Thoubal. He had won the last two elections from here with huge margins.

Published: 23rd February 2017 07:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2017 07:07 PM   |  A+A-

Human rights activist Irom Sharmila's Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), contesting from three seats has fielded two women, including Sharmila herself. (PTI)

Express News Service

IMPHAL: The People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), the political front which iconic activist Irom Sharmila launched last year, is hoping to do well in next month’s Assembly elections by “whistling” the conscience of Manipur.
“Whistle means many things. We are trying to become whistleblowers. We go around places whistling to try and awaken the conscience of Manipur, particularly its youth. By whistling, we try to wake up people,” PRJA convenor Erendro Leichombam told reporters at the release of its four-point poll manifesto in Imphal on Thursday.
Whistle is the PRJA’s election symbol. Ironically, the party is contesting in just three seats. Its candidates include Sharmila, Leichombam and Najima Bibi, who is Manipur’s first Muslim woman candidate.
The party pledged to work towards repealing the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), weeding out corruption, introducing the system of inner line permit, which will make it mandatory for outsiders to carry the document while visiting the state, and developing a self-sustainable economy.
“All military and paramilitary forces will either leave Manipur or they will relocate their camps to at least 10km radius away from all residential areas, marketplaces, educational institutes and cultural heritage sites,” the PRJA promised.
Leichombam said the manifesto was a vision of the party. According to a survey, he said 99 per cent of the people in Manipur wanted the “draconian” AFSPA to go. The Manipur government has withdrawn it from seven Assembly segments in urban Imphal.
Asked why the PRJA fielded just three candidates, Leichombam said, “We wanted to make sure we field the right candidates. There were a lot of ticket-seekers. But as ours is a very new party, we wanted to ensure the foundation is strong”.
Describing herself as an ordinary citizen, Sharmila said her dream was to bring real democracy in Manipur by connecting with people. She said she was contesting from the Thoubal seat to “see the real feelings of voters”.
Three-time incumbent chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress is among her rivals in Thoubal. He had won the last two elections from here with huge margins.

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