Gujarat Congress MLA Jawahar Chavda resigned from the state Assembly on Friday and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party hours later, ANI reported. He is the third Congress MLA to have resigned from the House in the past few months.

“I am happy to join the BJP and will serve the party with loyalty,” Tv9 Gujarati quoted him as saying.

BJP MLA Pradipsinh Jadeja welcomed Chavda into the party. “His entry will strengthen the BJP’s influence in Saurashtra,” said Jadeja.

The four-time MLA represented Manavadar seat in Junagadh district and is considered to be an influential leader from the Other Backward Classes. The development came just days ahead of the Congress Working Committee meeting in the state on March 12, PTI reported.

Chavda said he left the Congress because he felt it was better to work with a party ruling the state, The Indian Express reported. “After a lot of churning, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to be in a ruling party to serve people better,” he said. “And therefore, I have changed my home.”

Chavda had won from Manavadar in 1990, 2007, 2012 and 2017. Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said Chavda had handed over his resignation letter, but he had not cited any particular reason.

In July last year, senior Congress MLA Kunvarji Bavalia had resigned as legislator and was inducted in the ruling BJP government as a cabinet minister. Asha Patel, a first-time MLA from Mehsana, had last month resigned from the Congress and the House and also joined the BJP.

“Only Jawahar Chavda can answer the question why the BJP forced him to leave the Congress party,” said Gujarat Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani.