Former Gujarat chief minister and rebel Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela formally joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday in the presence of NCP's national president Sharad Pawar.
Welcoming Vaghela, Sharad Pawar said, "For two months we were in talks and finally Vaghela as decided to join our party. We want his experience and his strong public support in forming a non-BJP government at the Centre."
"I have requested him to not only lead our party in Gujarat but also bear the responsibility of the national general secretary of NCP, which he has accepted. He will be instrumental in better coordination for joining anti-BJP parties," said Pawar.
Vaghela said "Today the country is living in a constant fear. The constitutional institutions such as the Parliament, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, RBI, ECI, CBI, CVC, CAG are being gagged. I felt that it is not good to remain inactive in such times.
"Today the people are angry with the present government, and I see a UPA-III type of anti-BJP government at the Centre. The present government is corrupt. The person claiming to have a 56-inch chest tells so many lies. To save democracy I have decided to join the NCP."
Vaghela was expelled from the Congress in 2017 after he engineered a defection of party MLAs in an attempt to defeat veteran leader Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections.
An active RSS member, Vaghela had joined Jana Sangh in 1969 which later became the Janata Party and then transformed into the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP.
Vaghela severed his ties with the BJP in 1996 and formed the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) and formed the government in Gujarat and served as the 12th Gujarat Chief Minister for some time with Congress support.
He served as the state Congress president in 2002 and leader of Opposition in the state assembly till 2017. Vaghela was the Union Textiles Minister during the UPA-I government.