Popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ and respected for her determination, activist-turned-politician Irom Sharmila, who recently launched her new political party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), today launched a “crowd-funding” drive to ensure they collect enough funds from the people to contest the Manipur Assembly elections next year.
Sharmila, who ended her nearly 16-year hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur on August 9, constructed the party with a few youth supporters to challenge the Congress party’s rules. The party also has its own website – prja.in.
Also Read: Eye on Imphal: The Irom Sharmila story
Sharmila had earlier said that she would want to go the political way, following which she might fight for the chief minister’s chair in order to accelerate her agenda for a better future. Now, the drive is to gather some people who would fight for the same purpose as her — against “injustice” by contributing to “fighting for a change”.
According to party convener Erendro Leichonbam, the drive was launched in collaboration with a Mumbai-based crowd fundraiser company Ketto which would ensure that the funds get raised online from the supporters who believe in Sharmila’s cause — fight for peace.
Sharmila had ended her fast, but the fight against the armed forces act politically is still on cards.
“Our motto is money of the people, by the people and for the people. So we are seeking election funds from the people to keep election funding transparent and accountable. By doing this, we also aim to prevent big companies and wealthy people from trying to influence us,” Leichonbam said to The Telegraph India.
She might be an icon and legend, but she never wanted to be a goddess, she has said in earlier interviews, as the The Indian Express reports
It is known that corruption is swallowing the country slowly and we have seen in the past that politicians use their money power to buy votes. Sharmila aims to put a stop to that trend by seeking public funds through such drives.
“The crowd fund is also aimed at ending muscle and money power as part of the fight against corruption. Our aim is to change the system for a better Manipur where there is no violence and where there is justice and no corruption,” Sharmila said.
Interestingly, before launching the drive, PRJA had collected Rs 10 each from people under a programme, Ten4Change.
In September, she had a meeting with Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to find a solution to defeat major political parties in Manipur. Sharmila from Thoubal will be up against chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and her home constituency Khurai in Imphal East against Congress MLA Ng. Bijoy Singh.
Thus far, the party has confirmed five candidates, including another woman candidate.
Here are few things you should know about the Rights crusader:
- At 28, Sharmila (now 44) started her protest demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
She told The Indian Express: “I saw photographs of the dead bodies drenched in blood the next day, and never broke the fast — I was so upset that I didn’t eat. My colleagues told me to take my fasting from outside the bedroom and into the public sphere — that was November 5. So I went to get my mother’s blessing and then I left.”
- She was living as an undertrial prisoner in the special ward of Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, and had been force fed through her nose with a Ryles tube. According to The Indian Express, the tube has become one of the symbols of Manipur’s fight against AFSPA.
- Once, she was charged with attempted suicide and later acquitted on October 5, this year.
- She had gone to prison multiple times during the past 16 years of her protest.
- While she was trapped in the hospital and they put her under house arrest, Sharmila got the strength from Desmond Coutinho’s letters (her fiancé).
Learn More: Six Things You Need to Know about Irom Sharmila
Feature Picture credit- mymoneybazar
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