MUMBAI: Those who lack the spunk to fight an election on their own are deserting the party ahead of the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, the NCP said on Thursday after its Mumbai unit chief Sachin Ahir joined the ruling Shiv Sena.
The NCP asserted Ahir's decision to join the Sena will not affect the Sharad Pawar-led party's poll prospects.
Ahir, who was a minister in the previous Congress-NCP coalition government in the state, joined the Shiv Sena here on Thursday in the presence of party president Uddhav Thackeray and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray.
Reacting to the development, NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "His joining the Shiv Sena will have no bearing on our party's poll prospects.
"Those who are leaving the party are the ones who lack spunk and strength to fight polls on their own. They have surrendered to the ruling party to remain afloat in politics," Malik told PTI over the phone, without naming Ahir.
He said the NCP has alternatives available and will fight the Assembly polls, due in September-October, with "full might".
Hitting out at Ahir, Malik claimed he did not do any justice to his role as NCP's Mumbai unit chief over the past five years.
"Those who are alive, swim against the current. Those who are dead are washed away. Comrades, if you are alive, it is important to be seen as one. Jai Hind, Jai Rashtravad," Malik said in a tweet.
Later, addressing a meeting of party workers, Malik attacked Ahir over his statement that he was "pained" to leave the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
"The one who did not realise Pawar Saheb's dream, would he be able to realise the dream of (late Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray? He (Ahir) has gone there (in the Shiv Sena) to realise his own dream," Malik said.
He also said the party will take out a "huge" rally on August 9 to show its strength.
Hemant Takle, another NCP leader who addressed the meeting, said the party will stand behind whosoever is appointed the Mumbai unit head by Pawar.
"Let's show place to the one who has shown ingratitude in pursuit of self-interest," Takle added.
Meanwhile, NCP workers "celebrated" Ahir's decision to quit the party by bursting firecrackers outside the party office here.
"Ahir quitting the party is a good riddance for the party in Mumbai," a party worker said, requesting not to be named.