Rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu has said that the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, against which she had protested by fasting for 16 years, is a political one and she will fight it politically.
“AFSPA is not just a human rights issue; it is a political issue and I will fight it politically,” Irom Sharmila told DNA after forming a political party.
Sharmila Chanu, who ended in August her 16-year long fast she undertook to demand repeal of the AFSPA from Manipur, on Tuesday announced formation of her political party.
“I am doing this because I love Manipur more than anything. For 16 years, the government isolated me by keeping me away from the people of my own state. I wanted to connect with the people and be a part of the movement with them. Now I can work to repeal AFSPA, to restore justice to the Manipuri society and stem the violence,” Irom told the daily over the phone.
On the day she broke her fast, she had spelt her desire to form a political party to contest the Assembly election.
Announcing the formation of her party "People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance", she said she would take on Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in his constituency Thoubal in the Assembly polls next year.
Interacting with the media, the 44-year-old activist sought the blessings of the people in her endeavour to enter active politics.
Later, at the Manipur Press Club, she said she would contest the election from Thoubal and also from Khurai Assembly constituencies.
She said she wanted to tell the masses that she had the "guts" to challenge the chief minister himself in his own turf, but pointed out that her decision might not be appreciated by the electorates in that constituency.
Along with the announcement of her candidature, she introduced three other candidates, including social activist Najma Phundreimayum, who will be the first Meitei Muslim to contest the Assembly election in Manipur.
Earlier, she had met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and expressed her desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take their advice on how to devise a strategy to contest the Assembly poll.
Sharmila had earlier said her sole agenda to contest the elections was to have the AFSPA repealed from Manipur.