Meet Sofia Firdous of Congress, Odisha's first woman Muslim MLA

The Barabati-Cuttack MLA, 32, is the daughter of Congress strongman Mohammed Moquim

Odisha Congress MLA Sofia Firdous Odisha Congress MLA Sofia Firdous is the daughter of Mohammed Moquim | X

When Odisha Assembly election results came out on June 4, Tuesday, the Indian National Congress's Sofia Firdous created history by becoming the first woman Muslim MLA in the history of the state. The 32-year-old Sofia Firdous will represent the Barabati-Cuttack segment in the 147-member Odisha Assembly.

Interestingly, Odisha's first woman chief minister Nandini Satpathy represented the seat in 1972. The Congress leader was also the last woman to win from Cuttack-Barabati before Firdous.

Who is Sofia Firdous?

Congress candidate Sofia Firdous is the daughter of senior party leader Mohammed Moquim. She won a battle of debutants to retain the Barabati-Cuttack seat, beating Purna Chandra Mahapatra of the BJP by a margin of 8,001 votes. She polled 53,339 votes in all while Mahapatra got 45,338. Biju Janata Dal's Prakash Chandra Behera, who came third, got 40,035.  

The Congress party decided to field Sofia Firdous after her father was disqualified from contesting polls following his conviction in a corruption case.

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Sofia Firdous is a Civil Engineering graduate from the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology and married to entrepreneur Sheikh Mairajul Hague. In 2023, she was elected president of the Bhubaneswar chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI), etvbharat said in a report.

Mohammed Moquim's disqualification

Mohammed Moquim, the managing director of Metro Builders Pvt Ltd was convicted by a vigilance court for obtaining pecuniary advantage in favour of his company in guide of loans meant for the rural poor from Odisha Rural Housing and Development Corporation Ltd. The Congress legislator, along with IAS officer Vinod Kumar and others, were handed a three-year imprisonment by the court. In April 2024, the Orissa High Court upheld the vigilance court's verdict in the decade-old loan irregularities case.

Earlier in March, Mohammed Moquim had made news when the Supreme Court stayed an High Court order that nullified Moquim’s 2019 election on the grounds of suppression of criminal cases pending against him, an Indian Express report said.

As it was confirmed that Moquim can't fight the 2024 polls, the Grand Old Party decided to field his daughter instead.

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In a similar feat in 2022, Gulmaki Dalwazi Habib had become the first Muslim chairperson of an urban body in Odisha. The then 31-year-old usiness Administration graduate, competed against the BJP to become the chairperson of the Bhadrak Municipality.

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