The Congress suffered its latest blow in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday with its Damoh MLA defecting to the BJP just days ahead of the state bypolls.
Rahul Lodhi, a first-time MLA, is the 26th lawmaker to quit the Congress since March this year.
He handed his Assembly membership resignation to pro tem speaker Rameshwar Sharma, following in the footsteps of his cousin Pradhyuman Singh Lodhi — also a first-time MLA from Bada Malhera who switched to BJP around three months ago.
The former Damoh MLA joined the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state party chief V D Sharma.
Rahul Lodhi’s resignation has reduced Congress’s tally to 87 in the 230-member House. The BJP has 107 seats and needs just eight more to achieve a simple majority. The Congress, on the other hand, needs to win at least 22 of the 28 seats headed to the polls to eke out a bargaining position where it can try to gain the support of four Independents, two BSP MLAs and one SP legislator.
The former Damoh MLA’s resignation came a month after he met with state Congress chief Kamal Nath. According to party sources, Nath had called the meeting with Rahul Lodhi, as well as Tarvar Lodhi, another MLA from Banda, amid rumours that they could be poached by the BJP.
“After assuring Nath that he will not switch sides, Rahul held a press conference to announce that he does not want his children to ask why his father became a gaddar (traitor) and switched sides,” said a senior Congress leader.
Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said: “We would like to ask Rahul Lodhi what his children will now think of his move.”
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