Dehra Dun, Mar 10: With many claimants stalling the choice of chief ministership in Uttarakhand, the ball was today back in the court of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi to take a call as the party observers wrapped up their consultations with Congress and independent MLAs on the leadership issue.
Deputed by the party high command, Congress General Secretaries Ghulam Nabi Azad and Chaudhary Birendra Singh, incharge of Congress affairs in the state, held separate talks with each of the party's 32 newly-elected MLAs here.
The two leaders also met two of the three independent MLAs Mantri Prasad Naithani and Dinesh Dhanai—both Congress rebels—as well as the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal legislator Pritam Singh Panwar.
Harish Durgapal, an independent and another Congress rebel from Lal Kuan, was not present due to marriage of his son in Kumaon region.
“We held discussions with the newly-elected MLAs. Now, we will brief party President Sonia Gandhi on the views of these MLAs”, said Azad adding the new leader would be choosen in a day or two.
Later, Azad and Chaudhary returned to New Delhi.
Leader of the opposition Harak Singh Rawat, Union Minister Harish Rawat, PCC chief Yashpal Arya and senior party leaders Vijaya Bahuguna and Indira Hirdesh are among the contenders for the CM's post.
What has complicated the Congress' task of choosing the CLP leader is the conflicting choices of the three independents whose support is crucial for the party's formation of the government.
While Dhanai has openly rooted for Bahuguna as CM, Naithani is on record as backing Satpal Maharaj while Durgapal is backing Hirdesh.
In the 70-member House, Congress has 32 MLAs - four short of majority—and the party needs the support of three Independents and one MLA from UKD(P) to reach the magic figure of 36.
Birendra Singh said “we will take the views of all the MLAs and elect new CLP leader very soon.”