Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi on Monday in the presence of senior party leaders Narinder Singh Tomar and Kiren Rijiju, and merged his Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) with the saffron party.
He lauded the BJP for its commitment to national security and said this was one of the reasons of joining the ruling party at the Centre.
Singh's son Raninder Singh and daughter Jai Inder Kaur also joined the BJP.
Singh, 80, had floated the PLC last year after quitting the Congress following his unceremonious exit as chief minister, but his party failed to win any seat in the state assembly polls. He himself lost from his home turf of Patiala Urban.
Along with Singh, former deputy speaker of Punjab Assembly Ajaib Singh Bhatti, former MP Amrik Singh Aliwal, former legislators Harchand Kaur, Harinder Singh Thekedar, Prem Mittal and labour leader Kewal Singh also joined the BJP with scores of his supporters.
The former adviser to Amarinder Singh, BIS Chahal, also joined the saffron party.
Later, Singh said that prior to his spine surgery abroad, he held discussions with his colleagues in Punjab Lok Congress, who told him that 'if we want to see a future in Punjab, we need to join the BJP'.
"Now is the time to do something for the country. We have seen the Congress, now it is time to go to the party that has been doing so much for the country and its security. It is a pleasure being here," Singh told reporters.
Asked whether his wife Preneet Kaur would also join the BJP, he said 'is it necessary for the wife to do what the husband is doing', leaving everyone in laughter.
To a question on whether he supported the completion of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, he said, "My job is to fight for Punjab and I will continue to do that."
"Our ideology is the same," he said, adding that Punjab faces threats from across the border in Pakistan.
"We are hemmed in by two borders, two hostile nations and it is our duty to protect our country, our home state. If we don't do it, then we are not doing our duty towards the nation," he said.
Singh alleged that during (former defence minister) A K Antony's time not even one type of weapon was purchased by the Army, Navy or Air Force.
"Weaponry is coming in and that is necessary for us if we have to secure our nation," he said, adding that the BJP was doing a lot to strengthen the nation's security.
The former chief minister also thanked the prime minister and the home minister for extending support to him.
"We are a border state and I have been in politics for 52 years. I have seen over a period of time that our relationship with Pakistan deteriorated. The animosity that they have put forward, we have noted that with growing dismay. We have had three wars in 1961, 1965, and 1971, and since then this animosity has grown," he noted.
Singh also said that he has been bringing the drone issue to the notice of the prime minister and the home minister, saying, "drones are coming in from across the border".
He said earlier they were coming in till 7 km, now they are coming up to 42 km, and they bring weapons, narcotics, and counterfeit currency with them.
"The objective is to create complete chaos in the border state," he noted.
Singh, the two-time former chief minister, is the scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family.
Before his joining, Singh met BJP president J P Nadda and will be meeting Home Minister Amit Shah soon.
Earlier, welcoming Singh and his party members into the BJP fold, Union minister Narinder Singh Tomar said Capt Amarinder Singh has always considered the nation first and has kept the nation above everything.
"I welcome Amarinder Singh and his party into the BJP fold," he said.
He also noted that Punjab is a border state and it is important for the security of the nation that peace is maintained in the state.
'Capt sahib's thought has been similar to that of the BJP, as BJP is the lone political party which considers the nation first and the party after that. Amarinder Singh has also maintained this view all his life. Capt Amarinder coming with the BJP means that he wants peace and security in Punjab. The BJP will be strengthened in Punjab with his joining. This will be a historic step,' Tomar said.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju said Punjab is a state which needs to be handled with care and asserted that they have seen Capt Amarinder Singh and his functioning.
"I would like to offer a hearty welcome to Amarinder Singh ji. We all are extremely excited. This is a important milestone in India's political history," he said.
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma was also present on the occasion.