In a major setback to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, its Indore Lok Sabha seat candidate Akshay Kanti Bam withdrew his nomination on Monday, a fortnight before polling in the constituency.

He is likely to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Indore Collector Ashish Singh confirmed that Bam has withdrawn his nomination.

Senior BJP leader and state cabinet minister Kailash Vijayvargiya posted a picture on his X account in which Bam was seen sitting in a car with him.

Local BJP MLA Ramesh Mendola was also seen accompanying them in the car. Mendola is a trusted associate of Vijayvargiya.

The minister said Bam was welcome to join the BJP.

"Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Indore Akshay Kanti Bam is welcome to the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party national president JP Nadda, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav and state president VD Sharma," Vijayvargiya said.

The Congress had fielded Bam (45), a newbie in the poll arena, against sitting BJP MP Shankar Lalwani (62) from the Indore Lok Sabha seat, which is a stronghold of the saffron party.

Polling in Indore will be held on May 13.

Meanwhile, police have been deployed outside Bam's house in Patrakar Colony.

Local Congress leaders started gathering outside his house.

Bam has not contested any election in his political career so far.

The Congress offered him the opportunity to contest from Indore at a time when several party workers, including three former MLAs of the party, have switched sides and joined the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Indore, the largest constituency in the state in terms of number of voters, has 25.13 lakh electors.

The BJP has expressed confidence of winning the seat by a margin of eight lakh votes this time.