Manipur's Irom Sharmila contesting elections frugally

05 Feb 2017 | Written by Supriya ; Edited by Mansi Motwani

Manipur's newest political party, People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), was co-founded by Irom Sharmila in October 2016.

PRJA has five candidates contesting in Manipur's assembly elections scheduled on March 4 and 8.

The party stands apart from traditional political parties and is relying on people's support to drive campaigns.

With an extremely frugal budget, PRJA is using innovative methods to spread their message.

In context: Can you fight elections on a shoe-string budget?

BackgroundIrom Sharmila

Irom Sharmila, a civil activist from Manipur, gained worldwide fame when she undertook a fast-until-death in 2000.

She demanded the government repeal controversial 'Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act' that gave them unbridled powers to arrest and use force against locals.

Given government's 'unfavourable response', Sharmila broke her fast in August 2016, after 16 years.

She decided to contest elections and fight for her cause.

05 Feb 2017Manipur's Irom Sharmila contesting elections frugally

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Crowd sourced funding

Innovative campaignCrowd sourced funding

PRJA wanted people's support in the nascent stages of their political journey.

So they launched a #Ten4Change campaign which spread their message to people that they could contribute and participate in PRJA's journey to justice with nominal donations of Rs. 10.

PRJA's campaign succeeded in collecting Rs. 300,000 online: Manipuris overseas contributed to the cause and some money was raised by local youth too.

PRJA's kitty has Rs. 3 lakh in funds

For each of PRJA's 5 candidates, there is little over Rs. 60,000 to campaign for the party and prepare for elections. According to current Election Commission guidelines, expenditure per candidate has been capped at Rs. 20 lakh.

Common causeVolunteers offer a hand

All five PRJA candidates are managing their individual campaigns in minimal budgets.

Volunteers who believe in PRJA's ability to make a difference and share a common goal are pitching in wherever required.

All candidates, including Sharmila, are managing their campaigning with bare necessities.

They use PRJA's official vehicle judiciously and even while campaigning in villages far away, they opt for cycles.

HowConnecting with people the old-fashioned way

PRJA has not resorted to any advertising and has not put up any posters or hoardings.

Doing things the simpler way, they have reached out to people by going door-to-door or by hiring small community halls for just Rs. 500 and holding public meetings there.

Sometimes supporters in constituencies have opened up their houses so PRJA's candidates can hold public meetings.

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Irom Sharmila's message to Manipuris

"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."

07 Feb 2017Irom Sharmila will contest against Manipur CM

In the upcoming Manipur Assembly elections, rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila will contest against Manipur CM and Congress candidate Okram Ibobi Singh.

Erendro Leichonbam, convener of Irom's People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), said that Sharmila will contest from the Thoubal seat.

Known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" for her fight against AFSPA, Irom Sharmila has a strong political influence in Manipur.