Maharashtra Nationalist Congress Party President Sunil Tatkare was on Thursday elected unopposed to the Maharashtra Legislative Council with Congress withdrawing its candidate from the fray for the by-election to the lone seat vacated by Shiv Sena's Vinayak Raut here.
Raut resigned after his election to the Lok Sabha from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg parliamentary constituency.
Today was the last date of withdrawal of papers. Congress candidate Mohan Joshi said he had received instructions to withdraw from the fray.
"I will obey the party orders. This decision was taken at the meeting between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and NCP president Sharad Pawar last night," he said.
Chavan had yesterday said that talks with NCP were not conclusive before Congress decided to put up its candidate on the last day of filing of nomination.
"The issue would be resolved through talks," he had said after the cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, when contacted, state Congress President Manikrao Thakare said all senior leaders were of the view that the party should contest the by-election. "It was our seat and we had 24 votes more than the NCP," he said.
Thakre said he had also mentioned yesterday that the final decision would be taken by Chavan and Pawar.
"Accordingly, our candidate has been asked to withdraw," he said.
To a question on whether the Congress had given in to NCP pressure, Thakare said, "there is no question of pressure.
In coalition, there has to be adjustments. Afterall, NCP had fielded their state unit chief."
With Tatkare's election, the strength of NCP in the 78-member Legislative Council goes up to 29. Congress has 22, BJP 11, Shiv Sena six, Lok Bharti, PWP and PRP one each, Independents seven.
The Legislative Assembly was the electoral college for the by-election.
After election, Tatkare thanked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and other Congress leaders for withdrawing the party candidate from the fray.
Tatkare said his party had fielded him for the Legislative Council so that he can have time to tour the state for Assembly election campaign.
"The decision to withdraw Congress candidate was taken by consensus," he said.
Responding to questions on plans of both the coalition partners to contest Assembly elections independently, Tatkare said seeking applications from aspirants in all 288 constituencies does not mean there are plans to go solo.
"The exercise will help both parties to discuss constituency wise political situation and come to a conclusion about the elective merit of candidates so that we can win maximum seats," he added.
Tatkare said there was never any tension between the Congress and NCP over the Legislative Council by-election where both parties had fielded their nominees.
NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said the decision of Congress to withdraw was expected. The party had nominated Tatkare for Council to give him a free hand in campaigning all over the state.