Ganesh Naik, Navi Mumbai Strongman, Joins BJP Days Ahead of Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2019
Ganesh Naik ends 2-decade-long association with NCP | (Photo Credits: PTI)

Mumbai, September 11: Former state cabinet minister Ganesh Naik officially ended his two-decade-long association with the NCP on Wednesday and jumped ship to the BJP. He joined the saffron camp in presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the party's state unit president Chandrakant Patil. Along with Naik, his son and former Thane MP Sanjeev Naik has also joined the BJP.

Naik's exit from the NCP was preceded by switch-over of his son and Airoli MLA  Sandeep Naik to the BJP last month, along with 50 NCP corporators of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). The enmasse jumpship has turned the NCP-controlled NMMC into a body headed by the BJP. Amit Shah: ‘If BJP Opens Its Door Fully, No One Will Be Left in Opposition Except Sharad Pawar, Prithviraj Chavan’.

Naik, considered as the strongman of Navi Mumbai, had started his political career in the 1980s with the Shiv Sena. He, however, jumped ship to the NCP in 1999, after the erstwhile BJP-Sena government dropped him from the Ministry. In the subsequent polls, NCP-Congress emerged to power and Naik was elevated to the rank of Cabinet Minister.

Update by ANI:

Naik has represented the Belapur assembly constituency in Navi Mumbai for four times in a row. He was, however, defeated in 2014 elections by arch-rival Manda Mhatre, who had then switched to the BJP.

Speculations are rife that Naik may be fielded from the Belapur seat by the BJP in the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections 2019, instead of the incumbent legislator Manda Mhatre. The latter could be placated with a seat in the Legislative Council, said sources within the Navi Mumbai BJP unit.