Dehradun: Scraping through a virtual tie in Uttarakhand, the Congress is struggling to choose the next Chief Minister of the hill state. On Saturday, in a meeting with the newly elected MLAs and Independents garnering support to the party, the Congress observers failed to give a clear picture on the matter. 

The party's central observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Chauhdary Birender Singh, who elicited the views of the party's 32 legislators and two independent MLAs in Dehradun on the leadership issue, submitted their report to party Chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday evening. It is likely that within a day or two the party will disclose the leader of the legislative assembly.

Talking to media Azad said, “The party high command seeks to take MLAs consensus before selecting the chief ministerial candidates. On the directives issued by the party leaders opinion of the MLAs are being taken.”

In the two-hour long meeting, the observers took opinion of the members regarding the selection of CM from MLA or MPs. Harak Singh Rawat, PCC chief Yashpal Arya and Indira Hirdesh (all MLAs) are among the top contenders for the CM's post.

Sources said over a dozen MLAs supporting Harish Rawat for the top job have arrived in the national capital to express their solidarity with him. Party MP Vijaya Bahuguna's name was also doing the round earlier.

What has complicated Congress' task of choosing the CLP leader is conflicting choices of the three independents whose support is crucial for the party's formation of the government.

In the 70-member House, Congress emerged as the single largest party with 32 MLAs - four short of majority--and it needs support of three Independents and one MLA from Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) to reach the magic figure of 36.

While independent MLA Dinesh Dhanai has openly rooted for Bahuguna as CM, Mantri Prasad Naithani is on record as backing Satpal Maharaj while Durgapal, another independent is backing Hirdesh.

The old Thakur-Brahmin rivalry in the state leadership is another trouble, which could brighten the chance of PCC chief Yashpal Arya, a Dalit face. A section of Congress leaders is rooting for him saying it will send a good signal, while others feel it could benefit BJP in the long run.

Though the party ruled out veteran Congress leader N D Tewari as among probables, the former Chief Minister's opinion does matter. There is also a talk in the party about experimenting with a woman for the top job.