In yet another blow to the Congress, a party MLA in Madhya Pradesh joined the BJP, ahead of the state assembly bypolls on 24 seats. Pradyumna Singh Lodhi, a first-time legislator from the Bada Malahra seat, resigned from his Assembly membership after meeting with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharti.
Sources say around six more Congress MLAs from the Bundelkhand region may join the BJP in the coming days.
“Shri Pradyumna Singh Lodhi submitted his resignation on Saturday. I told him to think over it and not take decision in a haste. Today he again met me and requested to accept his resignation so we accepted the same,” Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Rameshwar Sharma said.
Mr Lodhi, who had ended the 20-year winning streak of the BJP from the seat by defeating the then Minister of State Lalita Yadav in 2018, is seen in pictures exchanging sweets Mr Chouhan and the state BJP president VD Sharma.
His resignation is crucial as the constituency is dominated by the Lodhi caste, which comes under the list of Other Backward Classes. He could get a ministerial post in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
Uma Bharti, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and the BJP national vice-president, was reportedly upset as no one from the caste group was included in Mr Chouhan’s Cabinet expansion earlier this month.
The Congress-led government had collapsed in March after senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, along with 22 MLAs loyal to him, resigned following tussle with the old guard, including the then chief minister Kamal Nath.
If more resignations come through, the party’s effective strength in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly will be depleted further. It currently has 91 MLAs in the 230-strong house, whose present strength is 206. The BJP has 107 MLAs and the support of four independents.
Both the parties have a chance to replenish their numbers with a win in the upcoming by-polls.