BHOPAL: The opposition Congress suffered another jolt on Thursday with its Mandhata MLA Narayan Patel resigning from the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha membership and joining the ruling BJP.
Three first-time Congress legislators, including Pradyuman Singh Lodhi, Sumitra Devi Kasdekar and Patel, have joined the BJP within the last 11 days. Since March, 25 Congress MLAs have deserted the party and joined the BJP.
With Thursday’s development, the Congress’s strength in the Assembly is down to 89. The BJP with 107 members and support of at least five more allied MLAs has a majority on its own in the present 203-member Vidhan Sabha. The Election Commission will now have to conduct bypolls to 27 Assembly seats by September.
“There isn’t selfish interest in it... I’ve made this decision for my constituency’s development and am submitting a list of demands to the CM,” Patel said, after accepting the BJP’s membership.
At the BJP headquarters, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the exodus of Congress MLAs clearly tells that the opposition is now confined to Twitter.
“How can there be place for Narayan in Congress, which is even questioning the Ram Temple construction start at Ayodhya. While the Congress is ruled by one family in Delhi, a single person (Kamal Nath) is calling the shots in Madhya Pradesh. He has no time for his MLAs and the results are for all to see,”
Both Kasdekar and Patel are considered ex-PCC chief Arun Yadav’s loyalists. Another Congress MLA from Khargone district, who is said to be close to Yadav, too is reportedly in touch with the BJP.
According to BJP sources, at least five to six more Congress MLAs are eager to join the BJP in the weeks to come.
But the Congress also managed to draw blood a few hours later when a former MP minister and expelled BJP leader KL Agrawal joined the party in Bhopal.
“I’ve watched development take place in the 15-month tenure of the Kamal Nath government and also saw BJP’s money bag politics. I’ve decided to join the Congress for ensuring future development of MP,” said Agrawal.
According to Congress insiders, Agrawal could be fielded from Bamori in the bypoll against Scindia loyalist and Cabinet minister Mahendra Singh Sisodiya.
In 2018, Agrawal came third as a rebel candidate from the seat, but ensured the defeat of the official BJP candidate.
“This is just the beginning of jolts to BJP. Some will happen in full public glare, while others will take place behind the curtains,” Congress state chief Kamal Nath said.
Assembly bypoll deferred
The EC deferred bypoll for one Lok Sabha and seven Assembly seats, including one in MP, owing to “some extraordinary circumstances peculiar to these constituencies”.
On Friday, it will discuss the new schedule.