Marathi actor Amol Kolhe today quit the Shiv Sena and joined the Nationalist Congress Party, saying he wanted to "strengthen the hands of Sharad Pawar".
Mr Kolhe, who is currently playing the title role of Chhatrapati Sambhaji in a popular television soap on the life of warrior king Shivaji's son, was a deputy leader in the Sena.
Addressing a press conference in the city along with senior NCP leaders, he said the youth population is growing fast and "the country is in the midst of a defining moment and needs the right direction".
"(NCP chief) Sharad Pawar is capable of giving the right direction to the country. I want to strengthen his hands," he said. He described Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as a "cultured man".
"I am indebted for the love and affection of Shiv Sena workers from all over the state," he added.
However, he was quitting the party as "some decisions have to be taken at the right time", Mr Kolhe said.
He would continue his acting career but spare time for political work when the NCP wanted, he said.
Asked about speculation that Kolhe may contest the Lok Sabha election on NCP ticket from Shirur, state NCP president Jayant Patil said the party had not discussed this issue with him.
"We will announce all the candidates when they are finalised," Mr Patil said.
Senior NCP leader ChhaganBhujbal said, without naming the Sena, that he could understand how difficult it is to quit Mr Kolhe's former party. "But he has managed it well," Bhujbal, who quit the Sena in the 1990s and had faced Sena workers'' wrath, said in a lighter vein.
Former NCP legislator from Badnapur Arvind Chavan, who had switched over to the BJP in 2014, also rejoined the NCP on this occasion.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.