Mumbai: Several prominent Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress leaders who resigned from their posts over the last few days, joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday.
The leaders made the entry into the saffron party in presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, party state unit chief Chandrakant Patil, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and party leader Vinod Tawde.
Among those who have joined the party are NCP MLA Vaibhav Pichad and former minister Madhukar Pichad. The senior Pichad was a very trusted aid of party chief Sharad Pawar.
Apart from them, Shivendra Raje, Congress MLA Kalidas Kolamkar and Sandeep Naik — son of Ganesh Naik, the NCP strongman in Navi Mumbai — also joined the party. Chitra Kishor Wagh, who resigned as President of Nationalist Mahila Congress, was also inducted into the party.
Fadnavis welcomed the Opposition leaders in the party and stated that it was an important day as the leaders who have joined the BJP today have created their own image in Maharashtra politics with their work. Patil assured that all the new entrants would be given suitable roles befitting their stature in the party. The crossover of these opposition leaders took place a day before Fadnavis embarks on his state-wide ‘Mahajanadesh Yatra’ to kickstart the poll campaign.
In a span of two weeks, the NCP has lost six top party leaders. Some other leaders are also said to be in touch with the BJP to jump the ship. Last week, Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir joined Shiv Sena. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has said that those in power are using agencies like Enforcement Directorate (ED) for coercing opposition leaders to join their fold. Assembly elections in Maharashtra are due in October this year.