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Ad war for prestigious Okhla assembly seat

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: No party other than the Congress has anything to lose in the bypoll for this Delhi Assembly seat as only the Grand Old Party of India has won it since assembly elections started to be held in Delhi in 1993. As Okhla has become a prestigious seat for Congress – byelection being held after sitting party MLA was sent to the Rajya Sabha – the party is leaving no stone unturned to retain it, but other parties have also removed all stops to win this constituency wherein reside the famous Jamia Millia Islamia and the infamous Batla House.

Hence there is an ad war in newspapers wherein candidates are making tall promises while on the other hand parties are pressing heavyweights into the campaigns which are ending this evening.

“To let the caravan of development and progress of Okhla go on, please vote Farhad Suri, hardworking and beloved candidate of the Congress,” says an election ad in a newspaper. Suri is former mayor of New Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Hindu rightist Bharatiya Janata Party has, in a surprise to many, fielded a Muslim candidate for the seat. Muhammad Irfan Ahmed has been in the party’s minority cell for years. A party ad cries out: For the development and progress of Okhla, for the identity and safety of Muslims and for communal harmony and solution of real issues, you are requested to vote for Muhammad Irfan Ahmed.”

The party in the last assembly elections had tried its best to ride on the campaign against terrorism in the backdrop of the Batla House encounter. Two Muslim youths, suspected as terrorists, were gunned down in the encounter on September 19, 2008.
The Congress, however, is again facing a tough fight from former Okhla councillor Asif Mohammad Khan. Khan gave a nailbiting finish to the last poll held in December 2008 with the sitting Congress MLA Parwez Hashmi just managed to win the seat by 500 votes – the seat he won three times in a row with margins of several thousands of votes.

Khan is again contesting on Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal ticket. A big ad on front page of Urdu newspapers announces the road show of party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. Yadav visited Jamia Nagar yesterday and sought vote for his candidate.
To check it Congress also sent its new Muslim face and former India cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin. Azharuddin is Lok Sabha MP from Moradabad.

The constituency has around 50% Muslim voters, and so it has always sent a Muslim candidate to the Assembly. The bypoll will be held on September 15.