In yet another setback for the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh, former IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad defected to the BJP a day after he was granted a ticket from Bhind.
This is the third key defection from the Congress. Last year, ahead of the assembly elections in December, Hoshangabad MP Rao Udai Pratap Singh had also joined the BJP. So did the party's deputy leader in the House Chauadhary Rakesh Singh.
The deputy leader's dramatic defection – just after the Congress had moved a no trust motion on the floor of the House to corner Shivraj Singh Chouhan on corruption issues -- gave the government a chance to escape.
While political observers feel the defections are consequences of the slump in the party's fortunes, the Congress leadership appears unfazed.
Calling Bhagirath Prasad a traitor, state Congress chief Arun Yadav said, "What can a party do if a person begging for ticket decides to switch sides after he is granted ticket?"
Going by the way the BJP is alluring Congress leaders, "it appears that they don't have suitable candidates and are relying on Congress turncoats to win the election for them," he added.
Addressing media persons, Prasad said he had joined Congress in 2009 after quitting as the vice-chancellor of Devi Ahilyabai Vishwa Vidyalaya, Indore, and contested the Lok Sabha polls from Bhind.
"After remaining in Congress since then, I realised the situation in the party doesn't allow you to serve the people the way you want to. It has a lot of divisions," Prasad alleged.
"The welfare of people is possible only through this (BJP) party," he said.
Prasad chose to remain silent when asked whether he had asked for a Congress ticket and why after being nominated he decided to quit.
Madhya Pradesh BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar said the BJP state election committee, which will meet on March 12, will decide on giving Prasad a ticket for Bhind constituency.
Prasad was considered close to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, sources said. He had earlier served on many important positions, including as the state home secretary and also as Indore collector.
(With PTI inputs)