Bhopal, Nov 4 (IANS) A major controversy is brewing over the disqualification of BJP legislator Prahlad Singh Lodhi in Madhya Pradesh.
A special court in Bhopal designated to deal with criminal cases against MLAs and MPs had convicted Lodhi and sentenced him to two years in jail for attacking a government official during in an illegal sand mining case in Panna district five years ago.
Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati on Saturday declared the Pawai seat vacant after the BJP legislator along with 12 others was convicted and sentenced for two years. The Speaker said the disqualification and vacancy of seat were natural corollaries of the verdict as per the Supreme Court order of July 2013 which said MLAs, MLCs and MPs convicted and sentenced for two years or more in any criminal case lose their membership with immediate effect.
The secretariat had received the certified copy of the court verdict on Friday evening. Lodhi’s disqualification has significant consequences. With Pawai seat ruled vacant the strength of the House reduces to 229 and Congress gains a majority on its own with 115 members.
In Madhya Pradesh, former MLA from Bijawar constituency in Chhatarpur district lost her membership when she and her husband Ashok Vir Vikram Singh alias Raja Bhaiya were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in connection with the suicide of one of their relatives.
The Gujarat Assembly also disqualified a Congress MLA under similar provisions earlier this year. Lodhi said the court did not send him to jail but granted him bail instead. He said he has time till December 12 to move the High Court.
He said the case dates back to August 2014 when Tehsildar R.K. Verma was beaten up by some persons after he confiscated a tractor trolley carrying illegally-mined sand. He was neither on the spot nor was he an MLA then. The Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha secretariat has said the court has already ended the provision for appeal in the matter in 2013.
Was it Election Commission’s call to notify the vacancy in the House? The Principal Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha, AP Singh says his office could and has announced for the vacancy and recommended its publication in the State Gazette.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath said the instances of members’ terror during the BJP’s 15-year rule are surfacing now. The people can expect more cases of such MLAs during the next few weeks or months.
In an apparent attempt to pressure the Speaker, the All India Lodhi-Lodha Samaj Convention on Sunday demanded restoration of Lodhi’s membership within 24 hours or face a state-wide agitation. The convention at Jabalpur was marked by belligerence and call for unity in the community in opposing the decision.
Prahlad Singh Lodhi tried to strike an emotional chord appealing for solidarity. “I came from a very poor background. I did not have the money to contest the Panchayat elections. I was aiming high and became an MLA with everyone’s support. The Congress is harassing me now.”
In an amusing reference he said the Lodhis contribute a lot of money to the police stations because they keep fighting among themselves and with others over trivial matters. Telangana MLA T Raja who was the key speaker at the convention said Lodhi are hardworking people.
They are just 40,000 in Telangana but with their solidarity they have forced the government to take them seriously. They are heard and listened to. The other communities also feel secure due to the presence of Lodhis.
In an unusual incident the pistol of Khargapur MLA Rahul Singh Lodhi was stolen from his holster tied to the waistband. The MLA happens to be a nephew of former MP Chief Minister Uma Bharti. Police surrounded the convention centre and searched every participant. The MLA’s private security personnel lodged a complaint with the police.