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BJP, Congress offers ticket to Irom Sharmila to contest Lok Sabha elections

Human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for the last 16 years against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), will break her fast on Tuesday. “I will break my fast as the government has failed to give any positive response… I will fight elections to resolve the issues,” she told ANI earlier outside the Imphal court.

Sharmila has already got offers from BJP and the Congress to join their respective parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said that it will welcome activist Irom Sharmila if she wants to join the saffron party. BJP leader, KH Joykishan said that Sharmila contesting elections from a BJP ticket is a decision which is to be considered by the central leadership of the party.

“The BJP welcomes everyone. if she wants to join our party we will not deny her admission. But regarding tickets we I cannot ensure as it is a decision of the Central leadership,” said Joykishan.

The Congress too hinted that the grand old party will welcome the iron lady of Manipur in their party, if she wishes to join the political outfit. Manipur Congress president TN Haokip hailed Sharmila’s decision to contest elections and said that the latter is a determined person who will sticks by her commitments.

“We know she is a very determined and committed person. Once she takes a decision she will stand by it. Her becoming a part of Congress is a decision of the election committee. We will welcome her if she wishes to join our party,” Haokip told ANI here.

However, Sharmila has also got threats from radical groups in the state if she contests elections and marries a non-Manipuri.

The secessionist group ‘Alliance for Socialist Unity Kangleipak’ on August 5 said that “some former revolutionary leaders were assassinated” after moving away from the cause and participating in public life. “All those who joined electoral politics did so knowing well that it was a dead-end,” ASUK chairman N Oken and vice-chairman Ksh Lab Meitei said in a statement on Wednesday.

The group demands sovereign Manipur. Two other secessionist groups too have asked Sharmila to continue the fast.

The 42-year-old Irom has been on a hunger strike since November 2000. Irom began her hunger strike to protest against the death of 10 Manipuris who were shot dead by the Assam Rifles in Imphal.

Sharmila was arrested and released from jail several times under Section 309 for attempted suicide. According to reports, Sharmila had earlier rejected Aam Aadmi Party’s offer to contest Lok Sabha elections under its banner from the inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat in 2014.

Despite repeated calls to withdraw the AFSPA from UN experts as well as national and international groups, the Act continues to be enforced.

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