Madhya Pradesh Congress MLA Pradyuman Singh Lodhi on Sunday resigned from the party and as member of the state Assembly, and joined the BJP before being appointed as the chairman of a state-run corporation with the rank of a cabinet minister.
Soon after he joined the BJP on Sunday afternoon, the party-led state government appointed Lodhi as the chairman of Madhya Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation.
Lodhi, who was a legislator from Bada Malhera seat in Chhatarpur district, joined the saffron party as its state headquarters here in the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
State BJP chief VD Sharma announced Lodhi's induction into the party fold. Chouhan and Sharma welcomed Lodhi into the BJP.
Lodhi told reporters, "I have resigned as MLA. My resignation has been accepted. Only the BJP can develop Bada Malhera Assembly constituency and the Bundelkhand region. The chief minister also approved developmental schemes for my area."
"My constituency is among the most backward areas in Bundelkhand which has seen displacement of around 20,000 locals in search of work. I am trying for an irrigation project for my area which can transform the entire constituency," Lodhi said.
Asked whether he has been promised a ministerial berth, Lodhi smiled and said it is all depends on the chief minister.
In the evening, the state government issued an order saying that Lodhi has been appointed as chairman of MP State Civil Supplies Corporation. The government also accorded the rank of a cabinet minister to him, an official said.
In another order, the state government appointed Pradeep Jaiswal, independent MLA from Waraseoni of Balaghat district, as Chairman of Madhya Pradesh State Mining Corporation Limited.
Jaiswal has also given the status of cabinet minister rank by the state government, the official said. Jaiswal, a minister in the previous Congress
government, had extended support to the BJP after the fall of the previous Kamal Nath government in March this year.
Before joining the party, Lodhi went to Chouhan's residence on Sunday morning. He also met senior BJP leader and former Union minister Uma Bharti, who in 2003 represented the Bada Malhera seat in the state Assembly.
Madhya Pradesh Assembly's pro-tem Speaker Rameshwar Sharma said Lodhi’s resignation as MLA has been accepted.
“He submitted the resignation on Saturday. I told him to reconsider it till Sunday. But, he again came to me today and requested to accept the resignation. So, his resignation has been accepted,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Surendra Sharma said the Congress is a party based on some individuals and when it loses power in New Delhi, it tends to disintegrate in states.
Congress leader Bhupendra Gupta said the saffron camp is using corporate money to buy elected representatives which was not a good sign for democracy. "He (Lodhi) said he was switching over to the BJP for the development of Bundelkhand. Does he remember who was in power for 15 years and how the Bundelkhand package fell prey to massive corruption under the BJP government?" Gupta said.
With this, the Congress's strength in the state Assembly has been reduced to 91.
In March this year, 22 Congress MLAs resigned from the Congress after former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP, resulting in the fall of the Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh government. On March 23, Chouhan took oath as chief minister for a record fourth term.
Following the resignation of 23 members and death of two sitting legislators, the effective strength of the 230- member state Assembly at present is 205. The BJP currently has 107 MLAs in the state Assembly.
Besides, the House has four Independent MLAs, two from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one belonging the Samajwadi Party (SP).
(With inputs from PTI)