Nationalist Congress Party’s Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir joined the Shiv Sena on Thursday, NDTV reported. This came months ahead of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections.

Ahir, who was with the Sharad Pawar-led party since its formation in 1999, joined the right-wing party in the presence of its chief Uddhav Thackeray and leader Aditya Thackeray at an event at their home Matoshree, PTI reported. Ahir was also a minister in the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party state government.

Ahir said he would work towards strengthening the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Times reported. On Wednesday, at a meeting with senior officials and workers of the NCP from his area he had indicated that he was about to quit the party. Ahir asked the workers to support him just as they had done before.

“Sometimes, tough decisions have to be taken,” Ahir said ahead of joining the Shiv Sena, claiming that Aditya Thackeray’s vision of development drew him to the Shiv Sena. “Today is a day of both happiness and mourning for me.”

The politician added that the Shiv Sena was in power in most of the municipal corporations in the state. “I can use my expertise gained as a minister for the development of cities,” he added. “Hence, I took the decision to work for the development of cities by being in power.”

Ahir said he had tried to meet Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to talk about his switch to the Shiv Sena, but was unable to do so. “Sharad Pawar will always remain in my heart,” he added.

Ahir, a former MLA from Worli in Mumbai, lost the 2014 Assembly polls to Shiv Sena’s Sunil Shinde. This time, he is likely to contest the elections from Byculla.