BHOPAL: Three days after opposition BJP MLA Prahlad Lodhi was disqualified as a legislator by Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati, following conviction in a criminal case, a delegation of the saffron party leaders met state Governor Lalji Tandon in Bhopal on Tuesday, terming the Speaker’s decision as “unconstitutional.”
Senior BJP legislators, including former Vidhan Sabha Speaker Sitasaran Sharma, former ministers Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Narottam Mishra, besides senior legislator Dr Mohan Yadav met the Governor and submitted that the Speaker’s action was unconstitutional.
“We’ve submitted before the Governor in written that the Speaker’s decision of disqualifying our legislator and declaring his assembly constituency vacant for by-election is totally unconstitutional, particularly as such decision can only be made by either the House or else by the Governor and not by the Vidhan Sabha Speaker. The Governor has assured to look into the matter,” said former MP Assembly Speaker Sitasaran Sharma.
Just a few hours before the BJP leaders met the Governor over the issue, the disqualified MLA Prahlad Lodhi petitioned the MP High Court in Jabalpur on Monday, challenging his conviction in the criminal case as well as seeking a stay on the two years prison term awarded to him by Special Court in Bhopal in a 2014 assault case on October 31.
On October 31, the Special Court had convicted the BJP MLA from Pawai seat of Panna district in the 2014 case pertaining to the attack on a government team which had went to stop illegal sand mining in Panna district. The court had also awarded two years jail term to the MLA, but granted him bail and time till November 12 to challenge the verdict in higher court.
Two days later on Saturday evening, the Vidhan Sabha Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati after getting the certified copy of the court order, declared the concerned MLA disqualified in pursuance of a 2013 Supreme Court order which paved passage for automatic disqualification of a lawmaker if awarded punishment of two years or more in a criminal case.
The Speaker also declared the Pawai assembly constituency as vacant paving the passage for a by-election there and sent the decision to the Election Commission for notification.
Meanwhile, in a related development BJP seems to be playing Lodhi community victim card in the matter. At the meeting of the Lodhi community (a powerful OBC community in Bundelkhand region) in Jabalpur on Monday, a resolution condemning the BJP MLA’s disqualification as Vidhan Sabha member was passed.
The meeting which was attended by the disqualified MLA Prahlad Lodhi as well another legislator of the party MLA Jalam Singh Patel (brother of union minister Prahlad Patel) also decided to stage protest and demonstrate across the state over the development.
The Lodhi community which is part of OBC segment (that constitutes half of MP’s population) is politically powerful particularly in Bundelkhand and Central MP region and BJP is eyeing to cash in politically by playing the sympathy card.