BHOPAL: Opposition BJP has suffered two shocks in the span of ten days in Madhya Pradesh, where it lost power after 15 years to Kamal Nath-led Congress in December 2018.
On October 24, it was loss of Jhabua bypoll (an assembly seat it won in 2013 and 2018) to Congress, which brought its strength down in Vidhan Sabha to 108, thus taking the ruling party to just one short of simple majority in the House.
The second jolt to the saffron party came on Saturday late evening with its legislator from Pawai (Panna) Prahlad Lodhi losing his House membership two days after being convicted and sentenced to two years in prison by a special court in a 2014 assault case.
With this the BJP membership in the House has now shrunk to 107, which has helped open gates for Congress to get simple majority of 116 on its own in the 230-member House, by possibly winning the future by-poll to Pawai seat.
With the Pawai seat being declared vacant by the Assembly Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati, the total membership of the House falls from 230 to 229, where Congress has already reached simple majority figure of 115. However, in the full 230 members House, the ruling Congress needs 116 members for simple majority, which it can get by winning Pawai by-poll in future.
Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati confirmed the receipt of the special court order handing the BJP legislator two years jail term in a 2014 assault on government team case. In Saturday late evening development, Lodhi’s membership was declared zero in pursuance of a past Supreme Court order automatically putting an end to a lawmaker's House membership on being award two years in jail or more in a criminal case. “The Pawai seat thus falls vacant now,” maintained the Vidhan Sabha Speaker.
Reacting to the development, CM Kamal Nath said on Sunday, “We always enjoyed majority in the State Assembly, which was shown by the party nominees winning the Speaker and Deputy Speaker polls. Just wait and watch many such deeds committed by BJP leaders and workers in their party’s 15 year rule will be coming to fore every week to every month. We’ll win 2-3 more seats in times to come,” said Nath.
On the other hand, former CM and BJP national vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan dubbed the Assembly Speaker’s decision a one-sided decision to render political advantage to a particular party. “It’s a one-sided decision without allowing our legislator an opportunity to appeal against the court order. We’ll move High Court in the matter.”
Congress now has 115 MLAs and seven allied MLAs in its flock to comfortably rule the central Indian state, while the BJP’s numbers are now down to 107, nine short of simple majority.
No place for Lodhi’s pictures in BJP posters even before declaration of disqualification
While Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other senior leaders of the party backed their MLA and announced going HC in the matter, the local BJP unit in Lodhi’s native Panna district gave no place to Lodhi’s picture in the posters of party’s November 4 statewide protest against Kamal Nath government. The posters had already been put up publically in Panna district, even before the Assembly Speaker confirmed his disqualification as Pawai MLA.
Dubbing his disqualification from the State Assembly a dictatorial decision, Lodhi said on Sunday, “Even the Special Court which pronounced the punishment against me on October 31 had granted me bail, giving me time till November 12 to challenge the verdict in the higher court. I’ll soon move the High Court.”
Lodhi, who did the giant-killing act in 2018 poll by defeating Congress veteran and ex-minister Mukesh Nayak from Pawai seat, accused the Congress of trying to destroy his political career right since March 2018. “When I contested against Mukesh Nayak’s close aide Dhirendra Dwivedi in the Panna District Panchayat polls, all kinds of pressures were exerted to stop me from contesting the poll. In March 2018, attempts were made to kill me with a truck, which inflicted serious injuries on me, but I still fought the Congress and won the District Panchayat member poll. After I won the 2019 assembly polls defeating Mukesh Nayak, the ruling Congress offered me Rs 2 crores to come to their side, but I refused,” alleged Lodhi.
On Thursday, a Special Court in Bhopal had convicted 12 accused, including Prahlad Lodhi, the BJP MLA from Pawai seat of Panna district in a 2014 case of attack on a government team led by Tehsildar, who had gone to prevent illegal sand mining in Raipura area of Panna district.
Importantly, after this Lodhi is the second BJP MLA in last six years to lose VS membership following conviction in criminal case. Earlier, in November 2013, another BJP MLA Asha Rani (legislator from Bijawar seat of Chhatarpur district) was disqualified from the Vidhan Sabha, following her conviction in the case pertaining to abetment of suicide of her maid.