Mumbai: Former Maharashtra minister and Congress' Muslim face in Mumbai, Baba Siddique, on Saturday joined the Nationalist Congress Party, a major boost to the Ajit Pawar-led party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
He was welcomed into the party fold by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and top NCP leaders, including the party working president Praful Patel and state unit president Sunil Tatkare.
Siddique had quit the Congress earlier this week.
Speaking on the occasion, Siddique acknowledged the role of late Congress MP Sunil Dutt in his political career.
Siddique said he had consulted his MLA son Zeeshan Siddique and former Congress MP Priya Dutt before crossing over to the NCP.
A prominent Muslim face of the Mumbai Congress, Siddique had also served as a minister when the Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
Speaking at the event, Pawar said, "We have not abandoned the Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar ideology and we are (of) secular (mindset)".
The NCP, led by Ajit Pawar, is a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led Mahayuti government, also comprising the BJP.
Although the NCP has joined the NDA, it has not deserted any of the ideals espoused by the party, Patel said.
The Siddique senior on Thursday declared his decision to end his 48-year-old association with the Grand Old Party.
"I joined the Indian National Congress party as a young teenager and it has been a significant journey lasting 48 years. Today I resign from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress Party @INCIndia with immediate effect," he stated.
During the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, he earned much praise for arranging highly sought-after medicines for needy patients.
The senior politician is also known for organising grand 'Iftar' parties which are attended by top Bollywood stars.
His son Zeeshan Siddique is currently a Congress MLA from Bandra (East). He is still with Congress.
However, before the senior Siddique joined the NCP, Pawar and other leaders of the party met at Zeeshan's office.