The people of Meerut are in a dilemma. "Vote without seeing us" is the message of two Muslim women mayoral candidates.
The electorates are being wooed to elect the candidate whom they have not seen at all.
These invisible candidates are of the UP United Democratic Front (UPUDF)- Hajjan Sanjida Begum who is the wife of cartoon-bounty fame Haj and minorities welfare minister Haji Yaqoob Qureshi and BSP supported candidate Hajjan Zubeda Begum, who is the aunt of BSP MP Shahid Akhlaq.
While the election campaign is now in the final stages, voters have not been able to even get a glimpse of the two Muslim women candidates.
While Sanjida Begum's banner and posters carry the picture of her husband Haji Yaqoob, BSP's Shahid Akhlaq has replaced his aunt Zubada on publicity material.
The two Hajjans (Hajjan is the feminine gender of Haji) have been campaigning in the area, where they could move strictly under veil from top to toe.
Interestingly they were in veil at the time of nomination of the papers. Since nobody objected the returning officers also did not bother to see their faces and match them with pictures affixed on the forms.
"There is no need to see the faces if the returning officer was satisfied with the pictures", commented additional commissioner state election commission Vinay Priya Dubey in Lucknow on Monday.
When pointed out about the Meerut development, Dubey said in case of any objection the women officers could be deployed to check with the photographs.
Dubey recalled that this problem had cropped up during the district Panchayat elections and lady officers were deployed to identify the Muslim panchayat members who did not wish to lift their "naqab" (veil).
It would indeed be an electoral record if people elected Meerut Mayoress without having a glimpse of her. The minister has been doing all the bidding on her behalf, as he has become poster boy for his wife.
On the other the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate Shaista Khan has been campaigning without veil. The Congress has fielded Indira Bharati and BJP's low profile candidate is Madhu Gujjar.
While the prestige of all husbands, whose wives are in the mayoral fray is at stake, the minister has deployed all his might to wrest the seat from the BSP.
In fact the minister's plan suddenly went haywire when the state election commission reserved Meerut seat for woman in the general category.
Yaqoob Qureshi, desperately trying to keep an octopus like grip over the city had no alternative but to push his novice wife to troubled political waters under the banner of UPUDF, which is headed by his elder brother Yusuf Qureshi.