Lucknow, Apr 30 (PTI) In a setback to the Rashtriya Lok Dal ahead of the bypolls to Kairana Lok Sabha seat and Noorpur assembly constituency next month, the party’s lone MLA today joined the ruling BJP in the state.

RLD MLA from Chhaprauli assembly constituency in Baghpath district, Sahender Singh Ramala, joined the BJP at its office in Lucknow in presence of state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey and the party’s general secretary Vidyasagar Sonkar.

Both the BJP and the Congress see the bypolls as crucial sincve they may set the tone for the 2019 general elections.

“Sahender Singh Ramala will definitely boost the prospects of BJP from both the seats. His joining will strengthen the party in the region,” UP BJP spokesperson Manish Shukla told PTI.

The BJP is trying to retain both the seats to send a message that the drubbing in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls were a closed chapter and it is still strong in western UP.

And opposition parties – the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress – see this as another opportunity to signal that the BJP can be defeated.

Voting in the bypolls for Kairana and Noorpur seats will be held on May 28. The counting of votes for both the constituencies will take place on May 31.

The last date for filing of nomination is May 10, while the last date for withdrawal of nomination is May 14.

Reacting to the development, senior RLD leader Anil Dubey said: “The said MLA was already expelled from the party for cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections. Today, it has been proved that he was hand-in-gloves with the BJP.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.