In a major setback to the Nationalist Congress party (NCP), its Mumbai unit chief Sachin Ahir on Thursday joined the Shiv Sena, in the presence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray.Later in the day, Mr. Ahir announced that he will contest the Assembly polls from Byculla, at present held by All India Majlis-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA Waris Pathan. His new party Sena is yet to make an official announcement in this regard. “I have been in touch with Sachinji, and our vision towards development of cities was matched to the extent that I asked him to do good for the State by joining the Sena. I arranged a meeting between him and Uddhavji after which his decision to join the Sena was finalised,” said Aaditya.Mr. Ahir, former Minister of State for Housing, said inspired by Aaditya’s spirit to do good for the city and orientation towards development of the State, he joined the Sena. “I have joined the Sena but I am not here to break the NCP. I will work to ensure growth of the Sena,” he said, adding several party workers and leaders have been in touch with him since his decision to quit the NCP.The NCP reacted sharply, saying the party is pained by the backstabbing. “The party survives on workers and not leaders. We will not back down by such techniques and will continue to work to grow the party,” party spokesperson Nawab Malik said.Throughout the day, names of several NCP leaders were making rounds over the possibility of quitting the party. Senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal was rumoured to join the Sena on July 27. “I have no intention to join the Sena. I am with the NCP and will continue to be so. I had no knowledge of Mr. Ahir quitting the party,” he clarified. Another NCP MLA from Akole, Vaibhav Pichad, also held a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis a day ago and is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Two weeks ago, Pandurang Varora, NCP MLA from Shahapur, resigned from the post and joined the Sena. The Sena chief said his party wins people over trust and not by any other means. “Our strength is growing and that means the strength of Marathi and Hindu population is also growing.” Mr. Thackeray, when asked whether more NCP leaders are to join the party, said he will not disclose anything as of now. “There will be more who will join.” Mr. Ahir was appointed the Mumbai head of the NCP in 2002 and held the position till 2009, when he won the Assembly election from Worli and became the minister. From 2009 to 2014, Narendra Varma and Sanjay Dina Patil were the presidents of the Mumbai unit. In 2014, Mr. Ahir lost to Sena’s Sunil Shinde, and was again appointed the Mumbai unit chief, which he held till Wednesday.