Indian front runner for prime minister Narendra Modi predicted defeat for the Gandhi political dynasty as he voted yesterday in his home state in the latest stage of the country's elections.
Voters queued early in 89 constituencies across nine states and territories for the latest stage of staggered voting in the world's biggest election, which ends with results announced on May 16.
Modi, a Hindu nationalist hardliner, voted in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state before taking a selfie of his inked finger and flashing his party's symbol of the lotus flower to crowds.
"After analysing the election process and the voter's mind until now, I can say that this time nothing can save the mother-son government ... a strong government will come to power," said Modi. "All citizens have to take part in the festival and make the democracy stronger."
Modi, 63, ran into trouble with the Election Commission over his actions, which accused him of violating a code of conduct by campaigning in a polling area.
The Congress party, headed by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, is widely expected to lose to Modi's resurgent opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a decade in power.
With the Congress campaign flailing with just over two weeks to go, another Gandhi, Rahul's sister Priyanka, has stepped up to lead a fightback by India's most famed political dynasty.
Priyanka this week called the battle against Modi and the BJP a "fight for the heart" of Hindu-majority but constitutionally secular India as the campaign grows increasingly bitter.
Modi is a popular but deeply polarising figure due to his Hindu nationalist rhetoric and failure to swiftly curb deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat when he was chief minister of the state.
About 140 million people were eligible to vote yesterday, including in Modi's Gujarat and the battleground states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which alone sends 80 lawmakers to India's 543-member parliament.
Voters in a Hindu-dominated area of Ahmedabad said they would cast their ballots for Modi, the son of a tea-stall owner who is pledging jobs, investment and economic revival.
But in a mainly Muslim area of the city, voters said they would turn to Congress and anti-corruption campaigners the Aam Aadmi party, claiming the BJP was biased against the religious minority.