About four months after the defection of 22 Congress legislators brought down the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, one more Congress MLA joined the ruling BJP on Sunday, dealing another blow to the Opposition party ahead of the crucial by-elections.
Accusing the Congress government of neglecting the Bundelkhand region and diverting schemes to Kamal Nath’s stronghold Chhindwara, Bada Malhara MLA Pradyumna Singh Lodhi handed his resignation to pro tem speaker Speaker Rameshwar Sharma on Saturday. Sharma accepted it on Sunday, saying Lodhi stuck to his decision though he had given him a day’s time to think.
Later in the evening, Lodhi was made chairman of the Madhya Pradesh civil supplies corporation, and given a Cabinet minister status.
Lodhi defeated BJP’s Lalita Yadav in 2018 by a margin of 15,778 votes. His resignation will take to 25 the number of seats where by-elections will be held. The outcome of the by-elections will be crucial to the survival of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
Bada Malhara was once represented by senior BJP leader Uma Bharti. Before joining the BJP at the party headquarters, Lodhi met Bharti and Chouhan separately.
Welcoming Lodhi to the party fold, Chouhan said the MLA had met him several times to get welfare works in his constituency sanctioned. He said the BJP will honour the legislator’s sentiments.
BJP state president V D Sharma alleged that an agriculture college meant for Panna in the Bundelkhand region had been diverted to Chhindwara, the stronghold of Kamal Nath. “The BJP has not offered him any allurement, he has joined us because he is driven by the urge to develop his constituency,” Sharma claimed.
Lodhi said Chouhan sanctioned a Rs 450-crore irrigation scheme for his region that irrigate 1,700 hectares.
The resignation brings to 91 the Congress’s strength in the 230-member House. In March, 22 Congress members had resigned, reducing the then ruling party’s strength from 114 to 92. Two vacancies have been caused by the deaths of one Congress and one BJP member.
The latest resignation leaves the Opposition party embarrassed because after losing power, it insisted that those who had to go had left and its flock was now together.
“All those who were up for sale are gathering in one place. Very soon, BJP will mean ‘Bikau Jaichand Party’,” the Congress party had tweeted.
Ever since it was unseated, the party has been using the ‘Jaichand’ (traitor) term for its former partymen.
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