Tough battle awaits Cong in Okhla bypoll

Though the constituency is said to be a traditional Congress bastion, the electoral battle is expected to be tough as NCP candidate Ram Singh Bidhuri is likely to eat up ruling party candidate Farhad Suri's votes in the seat in which 43 per cent voters are Muslims.
Adding to Congress' woes could be the presence of BJP candidate Irfan Ahmed, a Muslim.
Bidhuri switched over to NCP once again after he failed to bag the Congress nomination from the seat. Then sitting NCP MLA, he joined the Congress just ahead of the Assembly polls last year and contested from Badarpur where he lost to BSP's Ram Singh Netaji by a margin of 3,305 votes.

Besides them, other local heavyweights in the fray include BSP's Brahma Singh Bidhuri and Mohammad Asif of RJD. The bypoll to the seat, to be held on September 15, was necessitated after MLA Pervez Hashmi got elected to Rajya Sabha. Hashmi had retained the seat for the fourth consecutive term.

Religion and caste equations are likely to impact the outcome of the result in the constituency, where 15 per cent of voters are Gujjars and OBCs constitute 11 per cent.

Bidhuri, a Gujjar, said anti-incumbency and resentment against Congress government will play a major role in the election.

"People are fed up with tall promises of the Congress. The constituency does not have the basic amenities. Power and water supply is extremely irregular in most areas of the constituency and I am confident that people will not vote for Congress," Bidhuri said.

BSP's Brahma Singh may spoil his chances by creating a division among Gujjar vote.
However, Suri, son of veteran Delhi Congress leader Tajdar Babar, said the constituency has been a traditional stronghold of the Congress and that he was "very confident of retaining the seat".

In the last assembly election, Hashmi, faced one of his toughest fight but scraped through with a 400 vote margin against RJD's Asif Mohammad Khan.

Hashmi, who was trailing till the last round of counting of votes garnered 29,303 votes, while his RJD rival bagged 28,762 votes. However, Congress improved its performance in the seat in the Lok Sabha polls.

The campaigning in Okhla in last year's assembly polls dominated the encounter in Jamia Nagar in which two suspected terrorist were killed with Samajwadi Party using the encounter issue to paint the ruling party in an anti-minority light. 

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