MUMBAI: With the Congress deciding to withdraw its second candidate late on Sunday, the stage is set for all nine candidates - including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray - in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections to be elected unopposed in the May 21 elections, official sources said here.
The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress will get five seats, while the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party will get four, without a contest.
Late on Saturday evening, the Congress had unexpectedly fielded a second nominee - Rajkishor Modi alias Papa Modi - as the 10th candidate in the fray, besides senior Jalna leader, Rajesh Rathod, which would have necessitated an unwanted election.
But none of the parties including the Sena-NCP and the BJP were keen on a contest and efforts started late on Saturday to convince the Congress to take back the name of Papa Modi, a highly respected leader from Beed.
Late this evening, after a long meeting among the MVA partners, state Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat announced that the party has decided to withdraw the candidature of Papa Modi.
Now, the 9 candidates left in the fray are Sena's Thackeray and Deputy Chairperson of Legislative Council (Dr.) Neelam Gorhe, NCP's Shashikant Shinde and Amol Mitkari plus Congress' Rathod.
From the BJP, the four nominees are: Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, Praveen Datke, Gopichand Padalkar and Ajit Gopchhede.
With the MLC elections, Thackeray - who was unanimously elected the MVA Chief Minister on November 28 - will make his debut as a legislator.
He will also become the second member of the state's numero uno political clan to enter the legislature as an elected member after his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray.
"The election to 9 MLC seats will be unopposed. Taking into view the nomination of Chief Minister and the COVID-19 situation, the Congress has decided not to field its second candidate," Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, expressing his gratitude to the ruling ally for its decision.
The state's upper house has a total of 9 vacancies which will be filled up in the biennial poll through the electoral college comprising 288 legislators of the Legislative Assembly.