Vikash Sharma

Amidst the uncertainty over the candidature of senior Congress leader Mohammad Moquim due to the ORHDC loan scam issue, speculations are rife that the legislator's daughter Sofia Firdous may contest from Barabati-Cuttack Assembly seat.

A crucial meeting to finalise the strategy was held at Moquim’s residence on Wednesday to sort out all issues. Sources said several corporators, workers and other office bearers attended the meeting and the outcome will soon be apprised to the party high command for necessary measures.

“We held discussion with several Congress leaders and discussed about Sofia Firdous' candidature from Cuttack. Sofia has been actively involved in her father’s work, and hopes that she would definitely win if given a ticket,” said corporator, Santosh Bhola.

Another senior Congress leader said that Sofia is not a new candidate, rather she was involved since 2014 and campaigned for her father in 2019 as well. Hence, they have decided to rope in Sofia from the Cuttack seat and the decision will be informed to the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC).

“The people of Cuttack will certainly accept Sofia Firdous as people have understood the conspiracy made by the Odisha government not to allow Mohammad Moquim to contest the upcoming polls. Sofia Firdous is an entrepreneur and social activist. She is actively working for women and others in society through the Moquim Foundation,” said another party worker.

In his reaction, Mohammad Moquim said, “We have come to politics to serve people and thank the people of Cuttack for electing me. Unfortunately, Odisha showed eagerness in a 24-year-old case; I thank the Supreme Court for accepting our plea and granting bail. As there is no stay in conviction, I cannot contest the election.”

Moquim said that he is hurt as he is unable to fulfill the expectations of people who wanted him to contest again in the election.

“It won’t be appropriate on my part to comment on the candidature of Sofia Firdous. I have held the first phase discussion with the workers and others. As it will take some time, I will make an announcement soon,” said Moquim.

Senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty said, “Now speculation is rife that Moquim has no scope to contest the polls. Hence, the name of his daughter is doing rounds for the Barbati-Cuttack Assembly seat. But the question remains whether Sofia will be accepted by the people given the fact that the stakes will be high for the Cuttack seat. As nominations have already begun and time is short, it is expected that a decision will be taken soon in this regard.”

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According to Mohanty, Congress is giving scope to new faces and as Sofia is a highly educated and known personality, there will be no hurdle as she will get the active support of Moquim.

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