Independent candidate and head of a Congress-backed television channel Vijayan Thomas on Friday withdrew his candidature for the Thiruvananthapuram seat in Kerala in favour of former UN official Shashi Tharoor.
Thomas said his withdrawal is 'unconditional' and made after a request from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
"After I decided to contest as an independent candidate, there was tremendous pressure on state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala and (leader of opposition) Oommen Chandy because of me. I had done lot of work (in the constituency) and I apologise to all those who supported me," Thomas told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
Thomas is the chairman of Jai Hind TV channel and his candidature came as a rude shock to the party.
Tharoor, who also made an appearance at the press conference, said, " His (Thomas) withdrawal will certainly strengthen me and I respect him for what he has done."
Tharoor said that after resigning from the UN, he had invitations from three political parties.
"Joining the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was ruled out and then the other option was to join the Left. Since I have some certain reservations about their ideology, I felt the Congress is the best."
When asked to compare the Lok Sabha polls and his unsuccessful bid for the UN Secretary General's post, he said: "For the UN post I was a candidate of just 15 voters but now I am proud to be where there are 1.3 million voters."