India begins the world's largest free election Monday with more than 815 million voters casting ballots in nine phases over five weeks.
Voters will choose members to the 543-seat Lok Sabha, or House of the People, India's lower house of parliament.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, and its allies are forecast to win the biggest block of seats. But the latest polls show it may fall short of a majority. Any party or coalition needs at least 272 seats to form a government.
Security will be reinforced to protect voters and electoral staff. Hundreds of thousands of troops will be deployed during the elections to ensure peaceful voting.
India is wracked by insurgencies in central, northern and northeastern states, and rebels often target voting stations and security forces.
Elections in India are generally considered free and fair. Results are expected around May 16.