The newly elected Congress legislators of Madhya Pradesh were unable to choose a leader on Sunday, despite individual consultations with central observers Oscar Fernandes and C.P. Joshi.

Of the 58 MLAs in the 230-member Vidhan Sabha, 56 attended the Legislature Party meeting at the Pradesh Congress Committee office here. After four hours of debate and consultations, the observers decided to act on a proposal tabled by Leader of the Opposition in the previous Assembly Ajay Singh, authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi to appoint leader of the Legislature Party.

Mr. Singh and Mahendra Singh Kalukheda are frontrunners for the post, which is equivalent in rank to that of a Cabinet Minister. Mr. Singh, considered close to the former Chief Minister, Digvijaya Singh, helped the party perform better in his pocket borough of the Vindhya region.

Mr. Kalukheda, an old associate of Union Minister of State for Power Jyotiraditya Scindia, also has the support of the Mahakaushal region’s Congress satrap and Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath.

Another candidate Mukesh Nayak publicly announced before the meeting that he had pulled out of the race as he did not enjoy the support of most MLAs.

MLAs Kamlesh Shah and Manoj Agrawal were absent.

According to MLAs who attended the meeting, the observers sought consensus.