Bhopal | Jagran Politics Desk: In yet another setback for Congress ahead of the by-elections in Madhya Pradesh, party MLA Sachin Birla joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday. He is the 27th Congress legislator who has joined the saffron party since March last year.

Birla, 40, had won the assembly elections in the state in 2018 from Khargone on a Congress ticket. He had defeated BJP's Hitendra Singh Solanki by nearly 30,500 votes. After joining the BJP, Birla attacked former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath and said that he had no time 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," Birla was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Following Birla's remarks, Nath, in a series of tweets, counter-attacked him and alleged that the BJP has again tarnished democracy by making deals. He also said that the saffron party formed the government in Madhya Pradesh "by going against public mandate".

"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," 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.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma