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Life can be cruel: 90 votes to show for 16-year struggle

Manipur's iconic activist Irom Sharmila on Saturday announced she is quitting electoral politics, barely a few hours after her debut polls ended in a debacle – she managed just 90 votes in her contest against chief minister O Ibobi Singh.

"I don't feel ashamed of my defeat but am fed up of elections and won't contest again in future," Sharmila said.

"But I want my party, Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) to survive."

For 16 years, Sharmila was a role-model for the people of Manipur, a fearless activist who staged the world's longest hunger strike against what is widely seen as a draconian law.

And her decision to contest the 2017 assembly election against the Congress chief minister was billed as the battle to watch out for this poll season.

On Saturday, the battle emerged as a no-contest as Sharmila, 43, managed just 90 votes to hand, probably, one of the easiest electoral victories for the Congress leader.
Sharmila said she wants to go on a month-long retreat to an 'ashram' in south India, most likely in Kerala or Karnataka, and contemplate.

"It was not the result I expected. During electioneering, all the masses whom I met were sympathetic to my cause. But they ended up voting for others, due to their selfish motives," she said.

There were many others who faced a similar embarrassment.More than 100 candidates have failed to score even 100 votes in the assembly polls across five states, including activist Irom Sharmila who could get just 90 votes and vowed to never contest elections again.

The number of such candidates was five or more in some constituencies, including in Allahabad North and Muzaffar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, as also in Uttarakhand's Rajpur and Punjab's Guru Har Sahai.

While most such candidates were independent or from little-known small parties, some of them were even from well- known parties.
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