In a major setback to opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in poll-bound Maharashtra, its three-time MP and a descendant of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Udayanraje Bhosale, on Saturday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Bhosale, the Lok Sabha MP from Satara, earlier met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and tendered his resignation and later joined the BJP in the presence of top party leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah, Working President JP Nadda and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Welcoming him in the party, Shah said Bhosale has set an example by resigning as an MP before joining the party which will be strengthened with his arrival.
"Shivaji's descendant Udayanraje has joined BJP today. I would like to welcome Udayanraje on behalf of the BJP party. On moral grounds, he first gave his resignation today and then joined our party, it's a matter of pride. Our party is influenced by Shivaji's ideology and views and we will try to lead our nation following his ideologies, I am very happy to welcome Udayanraje in our party," he said.
On the occasion, he hailed Fadnavis and exuded confidence that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance would return to power with a three-fourth majority.
"Udayanraje's joining the BJP would be helpful to the alliance. We will win more seats than we won in the last election," he said.
For years, Satara has been a stronghold of NCP. Bhosale was one of NCP's four Lok Sabha MPs from Maharashtra.
Once represented by Maharashtra's first chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan, Satara has given many political heavyweights including former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Udayanraje said he was influenced by the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Shah and termed abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as one of the reasons for joining the saffron camp.
"Shivaji Maharaj had one moto -- 'Sarv Dharm Sambhav' and India's democracy has been running with that moto only. BJP is trying to build a stronger democracy under Modi and Amit Shah's leadership. I believe that BJP is leading today by following Shivaji's viewpoints and motto. BJP is progressing in so many states and many people want to become a part of this party. Nobody ever thought of resolving the Kashmir issue but Modi government worked in that direction," he said.
"Masses are joining BJP following their views and thoughts and that's why I have joined BJP today. I will work for the betterment of people following Modi Ji and Amit Ji's guidance," he added.
Fadnavis said Udayanraje's joining the BJP will give the party a major boost.
"It's a great occasion today. Udayanraje quit NCP and he has joined BJP today. He stays with the people and he works for the people. Maharashtra's youth admires and follows Udayanraje. With the blessings of Shivaji, we came into power and we have been following his ideologies," he said.
A three-time MP from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bhosale was earlier a member of the BJP and had even served as the member of the state cabinet of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the Maharashtra Assembly in 1998.