Nationalist Congress’s Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir has quit NCP to join Shiv Sena. Ahir was inducted into the party in the presence of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray. After joining Shiv Sena, Ahir stated that he is keen to fulfill the dreams of Balasaheb Thackeray. Ahir’s decision to join Shiv Sena is touted as a major setback to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after its poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls. The party had managed to win only four seats in Maharashtra. Many other NCP leaders will be joining Shiv Sena along with Ahir.
Mahila Pradesh Congress general secretary Advocate Manisha Rote said, “If one leader quits NCP, it won’t make much difference. However, it will have an impact on NCP if more leaders are quitting the party. Some leaders join different parties for money. Every leader is taking the decision to join a rival party as per his own needs. Nobody is loyal towards the party and ideology doesn’t matter to them.”
“I have joined Shiv Sena to fulfill the dreams of Balasaheb Thackeray. I am impressed with the work done by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray. Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision to field candidates for contesting the election. I have high regards for Sharad Pawar. I am not happy to quit NCP but some strong decision has to be taken,” said Ahir. “He will play a vital role in the development of the party. Many Shiv Sena party workers have called him,” he further added.
Political expert Abdul Wahab said, “We already have seen what has happened in Karnataka as many Congress leaders have given their resignation.
The NCP has failed to represent its ideology. They have failed to motivate their party members. Today politicians are more concerned about their future instead of ideology.”
Ahir’s resignation has come at a time when NCP is preparing for assembly polls after the party received severe drubbing in Lok Sabha polls. His exit will weaken NCP in Worli where he was a strong rival for the Shiv Sena despite its formidable cadre base. Ahir, who was a minister in the previous Congress-NCP coalition government in the state, was associated with the Sharad Pawar led party since its formation in 1999. He represented Shivdi Assembly seat in Mumbai from 1999 to 2009 and was later elected from Worli after the delimitation of constituencies.
Vaibhav Naik, Shiv Sena MLA, said, “The exit of Sachin Ahir will have an impact on NCP. More MLAs are likely to join Shiv Sena.”
With the Assembly elections in the state just months away, the development is a huge concern for NCP’s local leaders as Ahir, a former MLA from Worli, had been Sena’s principle opponent from the seat. Ahir had lost the Assembly election to Shiv Sena’s Sunil Shinde in 2014.
Ahir said that a couple of days back, he met Aaditya Thackeray at a social event where the latter told him that the Shiv Sena needed leaders like him, who were “well-versed in urban politics”.
“The Shiv Sena is in power in most of the municipal corporations in the state. I can use my expertise gained as a minister for the development of the cities. Hence, I took the decision to work for the development of cities by being in power,” he said.
Ahir said that a decision on whether he will contest the forthcoming state Assembly poll from Worli will be taken soon. The state polls are due in September-October.
Even other party leaders from NCP are keen to switch loyalties to Shiv Sena. While an official confirmation is awaited, speculations are rife that another senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal may also shift camps ahead of the Assembly elections.