Mumbai : State NCP chief Sunil Tatkare got elected unopposed to the Legislative Council on Thursday, after Congress, NCP’s partner in the government, withdrew its candidate from the by-election and averted a showdown between the coalition partners.

Tatkare thanked Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, among all party colleagues, after being elected unopposed.

In Tatkare’s victory, a major issue of confrontation between the coalition partners was averted. When asked about the lack of communication and co-ordination between the two parties, Tatkare said, “We have good communication and co-ordination between us. It was always there and will remain forever.”

Tatkare also declined to comment on the other contentious issue of NCP’s demand of 144 seats. He said, “Now that we have left the decision in this regard to the national leadership, I won’t speak anything.”

Earlier in the day, Congress leadership decided to pull out of the fray its nominee Mohan Joshi following a late last night meeting between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

Joshi withdrew his papers Thursday, the last day of withdrawal of nominations.

“I will obey the party’s orders. The decision was taken at a meeting between the Chief Minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar,” Joshi said before withdrawing from contest.

The by-poll, necessitated by the election of Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut to the Lok Sabha, had become a serious bone of contention between Congress and NCP with the latter blaming Chief Minister Chavan for lack of communication which led to both parties fielding their nominees.

NCP had staked claim to the seat saying since  MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre was a member of the Legislative Council the party too wanted to send Tatkare to the Upper House so he could devote more time to campaigning in the Assembly elections.

Asked whether Congress had given in to the NCP pressure, MPCC president Manikrao Thakare said, “There is no question of pressure. In a coalition, there have to be adjustments. After all, NCP had fielded their state unit chief.”

With Tatkare’s election, the NCP’s strength in the 78-member legislative council has gone up to 29.

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