Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is set to enter the state’s Legislative Council unopposed after the Congress on Sunday announced that it would withdraw one of its two candidates for the May 21 elections to nine seats, PTI reported.

Thackeray will lose his post as chief minister if he does not become a member of one of the two Houses of the legislature by May 28. The nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic had forced the Election Commission to defer the polls for the nine seats.

“We have decided to field only one out of two nominees for the MLC elections, which means the Maha Vikas Aghadi [the alliance government of the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party] will have five nominees for as many seats,” Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded four candidates.

Thorat had on Saturday evening announced the names of two candidates – Rajesh Dhondiram Rathod and Rajkishore alias Papa Modi – for the two Legislative Council seats. It is not yet known which of the two has been withdrawn from the race.

Earlier on Sunday, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that an “upset” Thackeray would refuse to contest the Council polls unless he was assured of being elected unopposed, the Hindustan Times reported. Raut said Thackeray sent a message to Thorat asking him to withdraw one of the Congress candidates.

Raut said Thackeray was not afraid of facing an election. “Do we tell people that while they are locked up in their homes, when there is a question mark over their livelihoods and health, political parties in Maharashtra cannot unanimously decide on an election?” Raut asked reporters. “This would be a blot on Maharashtra’s tradition.”

Raut added that if voting was held on May 21, all 288 legislators in the Maharashtra Assembly will have to come to Mumbai, sending a poor message to the people of the state during its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

On April 30, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari requested the Election Commission to declare elections to the state legislative council’s nine vacant seats, after Thackeray called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to enable his nomination. On April 9, the Maharashtra Cabinet had decided to recommend to Koshyari that he nominate Thackeray as a member of the legislative council through his quota of seats.