Mumbai, Jan 14: Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Milind M. Deora quit the grand old party early on Sunday and was warmly welcomed to the ruling Shiv Sena fold by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde here.
Deora, 47, was accompanied by his wife Pooja Shetty-Deora and other family members at the induction ceremony held at the Chief Minister's official residence 'Varsha'.
Shinde welcomed Deora with a stole, the party flag and flowers amid thunderous cheers and clapping from his supporters.
Besides Deora, several leaders and activists of Mumbai Congress and its allied organisations from the city and state units also joined the Shiv Sena, sounding alarm bells for the grand 139-year-old party which was founded here in 1885.
The departure shook the Mumbai Congress as a large number of office-bearers and senior activists also deserted the party to join Shiv Sena along with Deora.
The development could have political repercussions for the Congress coming strategically ahead of the BMC elections plus the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls all due this year.
The Congress which remained coy and smug amid the vertical splits in the Shiv Sena (UBT) led by former CM Uddhav Thackeray (June 2022) and later the Nationalist Congress Party (SP) headed by ex-CM Sharad Pawar (July 2023), was also politically mauled. Soon after joining the Shiv Sena, Deora said his father, late Murli S. Deora, and himself had enjoyed long familial ties with the family of Eknath Shinde and late Balasaheb Thackeray.
The ex-union minister also lauded the "visionary and successful" Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Modi, and said he would strive to strengthen their hands through the Shinde's leadership.
He slammed the Congress, saying the party has changed drastically in the past over the past three decades, and now it has no place for talented and capable people.
"The same Congress party which had ushered in economic reforms under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is now abusing industrialists, businesspersons and the government doing good work," said Deora.
The Deora scion said he believed in politics of 'GAIN' (growth, aspiration, inclusivity and nationalism), rather than 'PAIN' (personal, attacks, injustice and negativity), and lamented how the Congress has always opposed the laudable performance by PM Modi.
He said that it was imperative to take Mumbai and Maharashtra on the fast-track to development through Shinde and PM Modi, and said he was thankful for the opportunity to work under their leadership for the people of the state.
Before starting his new saffron innings, Deora went and prayed at the famed Siddhivinayak Temple and offered respects at the memorial of late Balasaheb Thackeray in Dadar.
Incidentally, amid the political 'kite-flying' of more than four years, Deora finally decided his new roost on Makar Sankranti dawn when he abruptly announced his resignation from the Congress. Deora himself tweeted the news, though he had chosen to be in a denial mode till as late as Saturday night, and even the Opposition MVA allies expressed doubts if he would actually take the plunge.
"Today marks the conclusion of a significant chapter in my political journey. I have tendered my resignation from the primary membership of @INCIndia. ending my family's 55-year relationship with the party, " said Milind Deora, the son of late Congress stalwart, former union minister and a 7-time MP Murli S. Deora, on snapping ties with the Congress.