Bhopals: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded its lone Muslim woman candidate from the Bhopal North constituency. Fatima Rasool Siddiqui is the only Muslim face to contest the forthcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly polls across the 230 assembly constituencies.
Despite Fatima’s limited political experience, the battle for Bhopal North will be an interesting contest as the Congress contestant Arif Aqueel is not only a five-time MLA from the seat but has a history of political rivalry with Fatima’s father, Rasool Ahmed Siddiqui.
Rasool Ahmed had registered back-to-back victories in Bhopal North in the 1980 and 1985 elections as a Congress candidate, with Aqueel dethroning 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 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 will be looking to continue his dominance in the seat and fend off a challenge from Fatima.
Fatima has 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.
However, Fatima deflected questions pertaining to her stance on the triple talaq issue.
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.
Meanwhile, Aqueel, who defeated BJP candidate Arif Baig by over 6,000 votes in 2013, said that the BJP has fielded a ‘novice girl’ against him as they could not find anyone else. He expressed confidence in prevailing over Fatima by a bigger margin than in 2013.
The state is slated to go to polls on November 28. Counting of votes will take place on December 11.