In a jolt to Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), its minister in Maharashtra government Sanjay Sawkare and party legislator Kisan Kathore joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Mumbai on Monday.
Leader of Opposition in assembly Eknath Khadse announced that the two were being inducted into the BJP.
"Both the leaders have a strong following in their constituencies and BJP will benefit from it in the October 15 polls," he said.
Sawkare, who represents Bhusawal assembly seat in north Maharashtra's Jalgaon district, was minister of state for agriculture. Kathore represents Murbad in Thane district.
"I decided to quit NCP because of local issues in my constituency. My supporters were angry over certain things and wanted me to join BJP. I was also noticing that another NCP leader in my region was being promoted by the party leadership and I was being marginalised," Savkare said.
The two are the latest in a long list of NCP leaders to join BJP in the last few days.
Former NCP leader from Sangli Ajit Ghorpade joined BJP recently in the presence of Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
Ghorpade may lock horns with state home minister RR Patil in the Tasgaon-Kavathemahankal assembly segment, if fielded by BJP which does not have the seat, as per the old seat-sharing formula with bickering ally Shiv Sena.
In a setback to the NCP, several of its senior leaders, including former Union minister of state Suryakanta Patil, late SB Chavan's son-in-law and former MP Bhaskarrao Patil-Khatgaonkar, had joined the BJP in presence of party's national president Amit Shah in Mumbai earlier in September.
Apart from Suryakanta Patil and Patil-Khatgaonkar, NCP's former state minister Babanrao Pachpute and former chief minister Ashok Chavan's rival Madhav Kinhalkar also joined the BJP.
Suryakanta Patil, once considered close to NCP chief Sharad Pawar, had criticised him and given enough hints about her plans to join the BJP, while Patil-Khatgaonkar was upset with the Congress leadership and his brother-in-law Ashok Chavan after not being allowed to contest the recent Lok Sabha polls from Nanded constituency.
Pachpute had a running feud with NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
Kinhalkar had put Ashok Chavan in the dock by lodging a complaint in the paid news case.