Former Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader from Navi Mumbai Ganesh Naik joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday. It is another a major setback for the NCP ahead of the assembly elections as Naik, considered a strong NCP man, joined the BJP along with around 50 corporators on Wednesday. Besides Naik, his son - former MP Sanjeev - formally joined the ruling party at Vashi in adjoining Navi Mumbai.
The veteran leader's entry into the BJP now paves the way for the ruling party to control the NMMC. Naik, who cut his teeth into politics with a stint in the Shiv Sena, joined the NCP 1999 - the year the party was established - following differences with late Bal Thackeray, the saffron party's founder. A leader representing the Agri community, Naik contested the 2014 Assembly polls from Belapur, but lost to BJP's Manda Mhatre.
Naik's younger son Sandip joined the BJP on July 31, leading to speculation about him also deserting the Sharad Pawar-led party. Along with Sandip, NCP's two other legislators Shivendrasinh Bhosale and Vaibhav Pichad joined the BJP that day. Former Kolhapur MP Dhananjay Mahadik also switched loyalty to the ruling party recently.
Earlier, the NCP had lost its Mumbai unit chief Sachin Ahir and MLAs Jaydutta Kshirsagar and Pandurang Barora to the Shiv Sena. The Assembly polls are due in the next few months.