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In a historic achievement, Sofia Firdous became the first Muslim woman elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Odisha, securing the Barabati-Cuttack seat. She triumphed over her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contender, Dr. Purna Chandra Mahapatra, with a substantial margin of 8,001 votes. Sofia’s victory stands as a remarkable milestone in Odisha’s political landscape, marking a significant shift in representation and inclusivity.

Since 1937, 141 women have served as MLAs in Odisha. However, until Sofia, daughter of former Barabati-Cuttack MLA Mohammed Moquim, achieved this milestone, no Muslim woman had secured an assembly seat.

Sofia recognizes the importance of her victory as a Muslim woman, but she emphasizes that overall women’s representation in the assembly is still low, with only 11 out of 147 MLAs being women during this term.

She told, “As a Muslim woman, I understand I made history. But women’s representation in the assembly is not impressive. Out of 147 MLAs, we have only 11 women members this time. The number should increase. Women should come forward in every field, including politics. Women can see me as a role model. My ideal politician is former chief minister Nandini Satpathy,”

Hailing from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Sofia holds the esteemed position of Director of a real estate company. She is also the first woman President of the Bhubaneswar chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai). Sofia’s journey began at the age of 24 when she transitioned from her BTech in Civil Engineering from KIIT University to the real estate sector, now having declared assets worth Rs 3.64 Crore.

On April 24, Sofia received her election ticket, and the polls were held on May 25. She personally campaigned in each locality and ward, utilizing her father’s well-established reputation to gain voter support. Sofia, affectionately known as the ‘smiling MLA’ for her cheerful demeanor, struck a chord with voters through her campaign slogan, “Cuttack’s daughter, Cuttack’s daughter-in-law.” Throughout her campaign, she maintained a respectful stance toward her opponents, including her own doctor, Mahapatra.

Sofia aims to transform Cuttack into a sustainable city and filigree work hub, generating employment and seeking input from constituents for area development.


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