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Fatima Rasool vs Arif Aqueel election in Bhopal North is more than a political battle

Fatima Rasool vs Arigf Aqueel

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has released the names of all its 230 candidates who will be contesting the Madhya Pradesh elections later this month, and the only Muslim candidate the party, known for its anti-Muslim communal politics, has fielded in the state is Fatima Rasool Siddiqui.

Fatima Rasool, daughter of Rasool Ahmed Siddiqui, will contest the keenly watched election from Bhopal North assembly constituency. She will be challenging sitting Congress MLA Arif Aqueel who is representing Bhopal North since 1998.

More than the electoral battle, the contest in Bhopal North is the fight of upmanship between the two political rivals – sitting Congess MLA Arif Aqueel representing Bhopal North and Rasool Ahmed Siddiqui – a former Congress MLA from the same seat.

Rasool Ahmed had registered back-to-back victories in Bhopal North in the 1980 and 1985 elections as a Congress candidate. But, Arif Aqueel dethroned him in the 1990 assembly elections as an Independent candidate.

In 1993, BJP’s Ramesh Sharma was elected as the MLA from the seat, with Arif Aqueel soon swearing his allegiance with the Congress. He reclaimed the seat in 1998 on Congress ticket. Aqueel has since turned the constituency into a Congress stronghold, emerging victorious in every assembly election.

Aqueel had defeated BJP candidate Arif Baig by over 6,000 votes in 2013 and is looking to continue his dominance in the seat and fend off a challenge from Fatima. “The BJP has fielded a ‘novice girl’ against me as they could not find anyone else”, he said, expressing confidence in prevailing over Fatima by a bigger margin than in 2013.

Fatima on the other hand said that the people of Bhopal still remember the work her father had done for them. She expressed confidence in ousting Aqueel from power, saying that apart from the traditional BJP voters in the city, all Muslim votes will also be in her favour.

Also, BJP legislator Alok Sanjar believes that Fatima is popular among the youth, adding that she will be able to sway traditional Congress voters from the constituency in her favour. Sanjar further stated that all BJP workers and voters are backing her for prevailing over Aqueel in the constituency.

The state elections in Madhya Pradesh to elect the new 230-member assembly will be held on November 28, 2018. Counting of votes will be done on December 11, 2018. [With ANI inputs.]

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