Hundreds of millions of voters are expected to cast their ballots when India holds general elections over April and May. Campaigning is in full swing in the run-up to the first phase on 16 April.
The ruling Congress party campaign is being led by party chief Sonia Gandhi (right) and her son, Rahul Gandhi. India's Grand Old Party continues to depend on the Gandhi dynasty to woo voters.
Mayawati, the leader of India's 160 million Dalits (formerly untouchables), is expected to win the key state of Uttar Pradesh. She is seeking pan-Indian appeal and reaching out to upper castes.
The BJP, led by its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani (centre), accuses Congress of being soft on terror, and promises tougher laws and lower interest rates and taxes.
Regional leaders are forging alliances to take on mainstream parties. Once-arch rivals, federal ministers Ram Bilas Paswan (left) and Laloo Yadav have joined hands to take on a common rival in Bihar.
The Communists - estranged allies of Congress - are concentrating on their strongholds in West Bengal and Kerala. This time, they have vowed to support a 'Third Front' of mainly regional parties.
As in previous elections, Bollywood stars are campaigning for various parties. Hema Malini, once known as the 'dream girl' of Bollywood, is backing the BJP.
Former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu is among the celebrities contesting elections for the BJP. Indians are obsessed with films and cricket.
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, is barred from standing in Uttar Pradesh but he is still campaigning for the Samajwadi Party which he recently joined.
Party symbols and banners feature prominently at the election rallies. Here Congress supporters hold flags at a rally in Karnataka state.