In a fresh jolt to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an independent MLA who supported the party after the Oct. 2019 Assembly elections, joined the ruling Shiv Sena, here on Saturday.
The legislator is Geeta Jain, 56 – who was elected as a BJP rebel candidate from Mira-Bhayander constituency of Thane district – and is regarded as an influential leader among the business community.
She visited ‘Matoshri’ in Bandra to a welcome by Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray and other leaders, as per a tweet by the party.
The matter came as a further setback to the BJP, hours after another stalwart from Jalgaon and former minister Eknath Khadse left the party after 40 years to join NCP on Friday.
A former BJP Mayor of Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC), Jain was associated actively with the party for over a decade.
On the eve of the 2019 assembly polls, peeved at being denied a party ticket, she had contested the elections as independent and emerged a giant-killer- trouncing both, the BJP strongman and realtor Narendra Mehta as well as the Congress heavyweight Muzaffar Hussain.
However, after the polls threw up a fractured mandate, she had thrown her weight with the BJP and Fadnavis, but later the political equations changed dramatically as the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Nov. 2019.
A Sena leader said that Jain had around a dozen meetings with Thackeray and other leaders in the past 10 months before deciding to take the final plunge, and her entry would “help strengthen the Shiv Sena base” in Thane-Palghar industrial belt, adjacent to Mumbai.