In yet another jolt to the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, party MLA Sachin Birla on Sunday joined the ruling BJP, days before the bypolls to Khandwa Lok Sabha seat and three Assembly constituencies in the state.
He is the 27th Congress legislator to have joined the BJP since March last year, when as many as 22 Congress MLA had defected to the BJP, leading to the collapse of the 15-month-long Kamal Nath-led Congress government that saw the saffron party’s return to power. Four other Congress MLAs had joined the BJP later.
Birla joined the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at an election rally for Khandwa Lok Sabha bypoll.
Birla, 40, had won the Assembly election on a Congress ticket from Badwah seat in Khargone district in 2018 by defeating BJP candidate Hitendra Singh Solanki by a margin of about 30,500 votes.
Badwah Assembly seat that is represented by Birla falls in Khargone district, but it is a part of Khandwa Lok Sabha seat, where the bypoll is scheduled on October 30 along with three other Assembly seats in the state.
“MLA Sachin Birla joined the BJP in the presence of the chief minister,” BJP’s media in-charge Lokendra Parashar said in a tweet while sharing the video that showed Birla being welcomed by Chouhan, Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel and other BJP leaders on stage during a rally at Bedia under Khandwa Lok Sabha seat.
After joining the BJP, Birla trained his guns on state Congress chief Kamal Nath, saying that the latter had no time whenever he tried to meet him on the issue of development.
“On the contrary, Chouhan heard my problems and directed the officials for the development projects in my areas,” he said.
After the development, Kamal Nath, in a series of tweets, alleged that the BJP has again tarnished democracy by making deals.
“BJP has sensed the possible results (against it) as their support base has shrunk. People do not want to see them (BJP) in power even for a moment. So, in a bid to save their government and the lost support, BJP once again engaged in tarnishing the democracy by doing bargaining and insulted the right to vote of the people,” Nath said.
The Congress veteran said the BJP has formed the state government by making deals by going against public mandate during the last Assembly election.
People will give a befitting reply to this politics of deal in the upcoming bypolls, he said.
Reacting to Birla’s switch-over, Congress’s Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh said, “The salable goods will be sold while durable durable goods will last.”
Welcoming Birla into the BJP, CM Chouhan said, “What could Sachin Birla have done in Congress, as Kamal Nath plays Twitter-Twitter and doesn’t work on ground.”
Chouhan said that the Congress earlier defamed Narayan Patel (who resigned from Congress and re-elected as BJP MLA from Mandhata seat) saying that he took Rs 20 crore (for switching side) although he did not get even a penny.
“Kamal Nath ji, Sachin Birla is the son of this soil who can’t be purchased by any power in the world. You destroyed the state by forming a government, but you don’t have time for Sachin Birla,” he said.
Bhupendra Singh, BJP’s Minister for Urban Administration, said that the Congress leaders are worried about their political future.
“The Congress is getting weaker and losing its public support, therefore young leaders are leaving the party for their political future. These leaders think they can serve the people in a better way in the BJP and be able to secure their political future,” he said.
After the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, the Congress had formed the government in December that year. However, the Congress lost its majority in the House after the resignation of its 22 legislators, who later joined the BJP under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia, now a Union minister in the Modi government.
After these resignations, Congress MLAs from Damoh, Bada Malehra, Nepanagar and Mandhata also resigned and joined the BJP.
If Birla resigns from MLA’s post, the Congress’s strength in the State Assembly will further reduce to 94. The BJP has 125 legislators, nine more than the simple majority mark of 116 MLAs in the 230-member house.
At present, three-seats including Jobat (Alirajpur), Prithvipur (Niwari) and Raigaon (Satna) are vacant and by-polls for the same are scheduled on October 30.
The Assembly has two BSP, one SP and four independent MLAs.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)