It is celebration time for the BJP as it won an unprecedented victory in Uttar Pradesh-325 seats in a house of 403. Near home, Irom Sharmila who fought for a cause for over 16 years got less than 100 votes and suffered a humiliating defeat.
Numbers indicate victory and defeat but numbers not necessarily represent everything.
In 2017 elections in UP, 61% electorates voted. The BJP secured 40% of the total votes polled, which indicates that the BJP is supported by just 24% of the eligible voters. 24% is no big mandate by any yardstick.
In Assam elections 2016, the candidate with the highest academic attainment and superior intellect polled less than 1000 votes put together in two highly literate constituencies. But is this an endorsement of mediocrity in Assam politics?
Elections held in Assam in the year 1983 were controversial, but legally valid as per Supreme Court verdict. In the election a congressman who won and became a minister secured just 260 votes.
Irom Sharmila’s defeat has drawn special social media attention and many inferences are being drawn. Her iconic image is created by the media. But the core issue of AFSPA or simply, whether the state is justified in resorting to extra judicial measures to contain militancy is being overlooked.
No doubt her commitment to the cause got diluted when she gave up her fast and joined politics. In Manipur politics there is a “consensus” among political parties including the state BJP and the state Congress to revoke AFSPA . Perhaps the distinction between her commitment to the cause and lip services by politicians got too blurred. Also unlike activists such as Arvind Kejriwal , she lacked organizational skill to win over people.
I am not sure if discussion around Irom Sharmila is any indication of public understanding of AFSPA and human rights issues. In all probability AFSPA will continue. But even without AFSPA, the state can do extra judicial killings like “Assam secret killings” which took place between 1998 and 2001,and did not get enough attention in the national media.