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The Economic Times

UP polls: In Saharanpur, it’s a clash of Congress’ Imran Masood and BSP’s Mohd Iqbal

Rahul Gandhi campaigning for the Congress in Saharanpur.
Rahul Gandhi campaigning for the Congress in Saharanpur.
SAHARANPUR: Personalities like Imran Masood, the Congress candidate from Nakur constituency of Saharanpur, and Haji Mohammad Iqbal, the BSP nominee from Behat seat, dominate the poll discourse in this district as much as issues of Hindu-Muslim polarization.

Imran is the nephew of former minister Rasheed Masood, the first legislator to be disqualified in September 2013 soon after a SC verdict that said any lawmaker against whom cases are pending cannot be a member of parliament. The two have now fallen out, say locals.

Even BJP supporters and government officials here accept that Imran is available to anybody in distress at any time. Also, there is a buzz that the distribution of Samajwadi Party and Congress tickets in the seven constituencies of Saharanpur has been done at his behest.

However, Imran has reportedly drawn the ire of other Muslim leaders of the region, including neighbouring Muzaffarnagar and Bijnore, as they see him as a challenge for their growth.

Haji Iqbal, on the other hand, enjoys a negative image as a man who started out as a grocer but is reportedly worth Rs 10,000 crore today. The SC has asked the Enforcement Directorate and income-tax department to look into his accounts.

The Deoband Assembly constituency is also witnessing an interesting contest. Mavia Ali, who won a by-election last year on a Congress ticket, is the SP candidate this time.

Interestingly, Ali’s wife Zaheera Fatima is contesting against him as an independent. She had contested the byelections too against him in February 2016 when Ali won the seat.
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