The Indian elections, the world’s biggest democratic exercise, will take place over nearly six weeks beginning on 7 April, and counting votes on 16 May. More than 800 million voters are eligible to cast ballots at 930,000 polling booths to elect a new 543-seat lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and decide who will lead the vast emerging economic power over a five-year term.
The two main parties are:
Bharatiya Janata Party BJP (right-wing, nationalist) Chairperson: Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi, the main opposition candidate, has emphasised his Hindu nationalist credentials by announcing he will stand in the revered holy city of Varanasi.
Modi's party The BJP is considered the frontrunner heading into the elections.
Indian National Congress (centre left) Chairperson: Sonia Gandhi
As president of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi heads the ruling political party of the world's second largest population (1.2 billion)