MP polls: North Bhopal seat to witness duel of namesakes

Posted By: PTI
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Bhopal, Nov 8: Two namesake contestants from rival parties, the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress, will slug it out in the November 25 Assembly elections from the prestigious north Bhopal constituency.

BJP's candidate, 78-year-old Arif Baig, born in Indore, began his political career as a socialist and was a minister in the Cabinet of Moraraji Desai.

On the other hand, the Congress has once again fielded 63-year-old Arif Aqueel, who has won from this constituency five times, although he had lost in 1990 when he contested as an independent candidate against BJP's Ramesh Sharma.

Interestingly, both the Arifs are confident of winning the elections, though for different reasons. Baig says that unlike Aqueel, who always talks of threat to Islam, he wants to campaign on the issue of harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Dismissing Baig's poll plank as inconsequential, Aqueel says in Bhopal Hindus and Muslims have always lived in complete harmony. Baig said that he was "confident of winning the elections with a record margin."

Asked if the BJP had made him a "sacrificial goat" in the elections since no party leader was willing to contest from North Bhopal, Baig expressed he would be happy to be so for his party and claimed that he had not asked for the ticket himself but the Chief Minister had contacted him for it.

Both the Arifs are confident of winning the elections.

Meanwhile, Aqueel said that the "margin of his victory this time would be much higher than all his earlier margins" and claimed that Baig stood no chance against him.

Referring to his social and political experience, Baig said, "I am more competent and experienced in this field." Aqueel quipped that Baig had given him best wishes for a victory when they met before he had got the BJP ticket and that he was confident that Baig's wishes would bear fruit and he would emerge victorious.

Aqueel said though Baig has served a long innings in politics, he has literally not done anything for people of Bhopal. "I would like to see even one stone that bears Baig's name in Bhopal," the Congress nominee said.

He said that he will fight the election on the issue of development, brotherhood among all religions and to bring in public the corruptions of the ruling state BJP government.


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