Former Maharashtra Minister Baba Siddique joined Ajit Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party this evening, days after quitting the Congress. He launched a sharp attack on his previous party after joining the NCP: “My condition in the Congress was how curry leaves are used to enhance the taste of food. I was treated like that in the Congress Party.”
Mr Siddique dealt a severe blow to the Congress – of which he was a part of for the last 48 years – when he announced his decision to resign from the party on Thursday, saying “Some decisions are painful, but they have to be taken.” He was a prominent Muslim face of the Mumbai Congress and served as a minister when the Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
The 66-year-old is the second senior Mumbai Congress leader to leave the party in the last one month after former Union Minister Milind Deora joined the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena in January.
He had already made up his mind to go with Ajit Pawar’s party when he decided to quit the grand old party. “I will go with the Ajit Pawar group. My journey will be from Congress to Nationalist Congress Party,” he said soon after announcing his big decision on X.
Mr Siddique said today that he “met with Praful Patel a few days ago after which it was decided that I have to work in the NCP under the leadership of Ajit Pawar”. Former Union Minister Praful Patel is a close aide of Ajit Pawar and is presently the working president of NCP.
In his parting words to the Congress, he said, “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 with immediate effect”.
“There’s a lot I would have liked to express but as they say some things are better left unsaid. I thank everyone who has been a part of this journey,” his post on X read.
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. There’s a lot I would have liked to express…
— Baba Siddique (@BabaSiddique) February 8, 2024
The development comes after the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP – part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra – recognised as the real NCP by the Election Commission earlier this week. The poll body’s decision ended months of speculation over the factional fight with his uncle – also the founder of NCP – Sharad Pawar.
Baba Siddique’s son Zeeshan is a Congress MLA from Bandra (East) in Mumbai. “He will take his own call,” said Mr Siddique when asked if his son would follow his footsteps.
The politician is also known for his grand Iftar parties which are attended by top Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.