Dealing a blow to the Congress ahead of the parliamentary and assembly elections, its MLA Swaran Lata Monday joined the National Conference.
Lata was vice-chairperson of social welfare board during the NC-Congress coalition government which ruled the state between 2009 to 2014.
She joined the National Conference (NC) in the presence of party vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah at the party headquarters.
Lata was elected Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) on a Congress ticket in the 1987 state polls, from the reserved Bar Brahamana constituency in Jammu district.
Welcoming the leader into the party fold, Omar said his father and party president Farooq Abdullah was desirous of attending her joining programme, but could not make it as he had to go to Delhi to attend a crucial meeting of opposition parties.
"I welcome her on behalf of the party president, myself and other leaders and workers. When our government was in power, I had got an opportunity to work with her when she was the vice-chairperson and extended her support to serve the people of the state, especially the downtrodden sections," he said.
"When I heard about her plan to join the party, I called her to know the reality as rumours spread thick and fast here," Omar said.
The NC leader said Lata expressed her desire to make a new beginning and carry forward the work from where it was left.
"I welcomed her into the family of NC and our motive is to serve the people of the state. We will work together to take the state to new heights of development," he added.