Mumbai: In a jolt ahead of the Assembly polls, NCP Mumbai president and former minister Sachin Ahir, who was the face of the party in Mumbai, joined the Shiv Sena on Thursday.
Shiv Sena is hyping this as a big setback for the opposition party. Ahir joined the Sena in the presence of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. “In politics, tough decisions have to be taken,” the 47-year-old former lawmaker told reporters. He had lost the 2014 Assembly election to Shiv Sena’s candidate Sunil Shinde.
Acknowledging that the transition would be “difficult,” given the ideological differences, Ahir said, “I’m a good political student. So I’m going to start from the first standard. I will not engineer defections in the NCP, but will strengthen the Sena.”
MORE SOON: Meanwhile, the BJP is zeroing in on key young leaders and the buzz is that Shivendra Raje Bhosle and Vaibhav Pichad are also likely to desert the NCP.
IT RAIDS: Incidentally, there were I-T raids on senior NCP leader and former Minister Hasan Mushrif, sparking speculation that he may have rejected similar overtures.
Vaibhav, a tribal leader and son of former minister and former state president of the NCP, Madhukar Pichad, met CM Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday night along with Housing Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
Though Pichad clarified that he met the CM for his daughter’s admission, it is clear that Vikhe Patil, who recently deserted the Congress, is discharging his new role.
Also, sources said that Shivendra Raje Bhosale, brother of Udayanraje Bhosale and NCP legislator from Satara, is joining the beeline for BJP. The Shiv Sena had claimed recently that former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal may also join the Shiv Sena, but the latter denied any such move.
Aaditya up front, Milind missing
Whenever any leader joins the Sena, Uddhav ties a thread on his wrist -- the Shivbandhan – but this time the needful was done by Aaditya. Sena sources said that it was Aaditya who had played a role in roping in Ahir when both of them had met in London this summer.
Milind Narvekar, who generally plays a key role in the entry of leaders into the Shiv Sena, was absent on the occasion.