When EC announces the Himachal election dates, it is the baptism by ballot for the new Congress leader

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spent a total of 10 days tied to elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh over the past month and a half, but the new Congress President, who is elected next week, will have barely three weeks to settle in ahead of Himachal’s elections Pradesh on November 12th.

This is while Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra will not touch any of the election-bound states. The Electoral Commission on Friday announced a single-phase election plan for Himachal Pradesh, saying the election would be held on November 12 and the results would be released on December 8. Although the schedule for Gujarat has not been announced, it is expected that the state will vote two or three weeks later, with the results for both states being released on the same day as happened in 2017.

This leaves a difficult task for the new Congress president – Mallikarjun Kharge or Shashi Tharoor – who will have little time to prepare for the two crucial state elections that will be his first test of elections with Rahul Gandhi Padyatra.

The congressional campaign in both states has so far been lackluster and appears to be dependent on Priyanka Gandhi in Himachal Pradesh. She kicked off the campaign with a rally in Solan on Friday and is expected to hold three more rallies around the state soon. Rahul Gandhi Padyatra expected to be in Maharashtra by the time of the Himachal polls and advance north by the time of the Gujarat polls.

However, the BJP was in overdrive in these two poll-bound states, with the Prime Minister himself leading the charge by inaugurating crores worth of development projects or laying the groundwork, and attacking Congress and the Aam Aadmi party. The Prime Minister has spent 10 days touring both states since late August, covering Una, Chamba, Kullu and Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh. He has covered Mehsana, Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar, Bharuch, Jamnagar, Surat, Bhavnagar, Ambaji and Bhuj in Gujarat.

The BJP also started with five yatras in Gujarat, launched by Interior Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda, and attended by senior Union ministers. In addition, Himachal Pradesh is Nadda’s home state and he has repeatedly visited the state and will campaign extensively there. The BJP is also drafting an elaborate campaign plan for the Prime Minister, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and other Union ministers.

The new congressional chief has to get started in both survey-bound states and has little time to settle into the new job.

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