Former Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse today joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the presence of founder Sharad Pawar. He had quit the BJP on Wednesday after four years in political wilderness following his exit as revenue minister from the Devendra Fadnavis government in 2016 over land grab allegations.
Mr Khadse (68) flew in to Mumbai on Thursday from his native Jalgaon district in northern Maharashtra. He was inducted into the NCP at the party's headquarters in the city. The formal event, scheduled for 2 pm, was delayed by over an hour, waiting for Mr Pawar to emerge from a meeting with state minister Jitendra Awhad.
Jayant Patil, the NCP's leader in the Maharashtra Assembly, welcomed Mr Khadse into the party, offering him a scarf.
The veteran leader had on Wednesday blamed former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for "trying to destroy his life" and political career, three decades of which were spent strengthening the BJP in Maharashtra.
"I feel sad about quitting the BJP but I had no choice. There were attempts to frame me on false charges of rape," Mr Khadse had said.
Mr Fadnavis, however, dubbed these allegations "half-truth", adding that it was Mr Khadse who was painting him a villain.
On Friday, reports emerged of NCP supporters putting up a poster outside Mr Khadse's residence in Mumbai, apparently referring to his shift from the BJP to the NCP.
"Didn't we tell you...if you change, nothing would happen, but if we change, then the entire atmosphere will change," it said.