More than 700 million voters are eligible to take part in India's general elections this year. A huge logistical exercise, elections for the Lok Sabha, the lower house, take place on five dates: April 16th, April 23rd, April 30th, May 7th and May 13th. Votes will be counted on May 16th.
Two coalitions are competing for power: the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The UPA is led by the Congress party, while the NDA is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However the main parties are also feeling the pressure from a "third front" made up of an alliance of left-wing and regional parties.
The poll will give voters the chance to cast judgement on Congress's five years in office - during which there has been rapid economic and social growth, although job losses and rising costs over the past year are also likely to influence voters. The opposition has focused on India's domestic security following the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, and has claimed that the government has been ineffective in cracking down on terrorism.
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