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No Time & No RaGa: As EC Announces Himachal Election Dates, It's Baptism by Ballot for New Congress Chief

By: Aman Sharma

Edited By: Nitya Thirumalai

News18.com

Last Updated: October 14, 2022, 17:13 IST

New Delhi, India

The electoral contest for the next Congress president is down to Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor. (PTI Photos)

The electoral contest for the next Congress president is down to Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor. (PTI Photos)

The new Congress chief – either Mallikarjun Kharge or Shashi Tharoor – will need to hit the ground running in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, with barely any time at hand to settle in the new job and with Rahul Gandhi busy on the Bharat Jodo yatra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spent a total of 10 days in the last one-and-a-half months in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh but the new Congress president to be elected next week will barely have three weeks to settle in before Himachal Pradesh polls on November 12.

This is while Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra will not be touching either of the poll-bound states. The Election Commission announced a single-phase poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh on Friday, saying the polling would happen on November 12 and results would be out on December 8. Though the Gujarat schedule was not announced, it is expected that the state will poll two or three weeks later with results coming out for both states on the same day, as it happened in 2017.

This leaves an arduous task for the new Congress President — Mallikarjun Kharge or Shashi Tharoor — who will barely have any time to gear up for the two crucial state polls which will be his first electoral test, with Rahul Gandhi on the padyatra.

The Congress campaign in both states has been lacklustre so far and looks dependent on Priyanka Gandhi in Himachal Pradesh. She kicked off the campaign on Friday with a rally in Solan and is expected to hold three more rallies in the state soon. Rahul Gandhi’s padyatra is expected to be in Maharashtra at the time of Himachal polls and will move up northwards by the time of Gujarat polls.

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The BJP, however, has been on an overdrive in both these poll-bound states with the Prime Minister himself leading the charge by inaugurating or laying the foundation stone of development projects worth crores and has been attacking the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party. The PM has spent 10 days touring both the states since end-August and has covered 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 five yatras in Gujarat this week which were launched by Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda and are being attended by top Union Ministers. Further, Himachal Pradesh is the home state of Nadda and he has been on repeated visits to the state and will campaign extensively there. The BJP is also drawing up an elaborate campaign plan for the PM, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and other Union ministers.

The new Congress chief will need to hit the ground running in both poll-bound states, with barely any time at hand to settle in the new job.

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