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In yet another blow to the Congress, a party MLA in Madhya Pradesh joined the BJP, ahead of the state assembly bypolls on 24 seats. Pradyumna Singh Lodhi, a first-time legislator from the Bada Malahra seat, resigned from his Assembly membership after meeting with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharti.
Sources say around six more Congress MLAs from the Bundelkhand region may join the BJP in the coming days.
Earlier, the first Cabinet expansion had taken place on April 21 amid the nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were enforced from March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak and about a month after Chouhan assumed office for a fourth term.
Among his other supporters, former Ministers in the Kamal Nath government Tulsiram Silawat secured the Water Resources and the Fisherman Welfare and Fisheries Development Departments; Govind Singh Rajput the Revenue and the Transport Departments; Imarti Devi the Women and Child Development Department; Pradhuman Singh Tomar the Energy Department; and Mahendra Singh Sisodiya the Panchayat and Rural Development Department. Another supporter Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaon bagged the Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion Department.
The Congress-led government had collapsed in March after senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, along with 22 MLAs loyal to him, resigned following tussle with the old guard, including the then chief minister Kamal Nath.
If more resignations come through, the party’s effective strength in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly will be depleted further. It currently has 91 MLAs in the 230-strong house, whose present strength is 206. The BJP has 107 MLAs and the support of four independents.
Both the parties have a chance to replenish their numbers with a win in the upcoming by-polls.
The Congress is also in trouble in Rajasthan as Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, upset with a probe notice, is in talks with the BJP, sources say.