On Monday, April 7, the first of more than 800 million voters in India will cast their ballots in over 900,000 polling centers across the country. The election, which is being held in phases, will last for six weeks and will decide who will become the next prime minister of the world's largest democracy.
We asked people in different states what was the most important issue that they'd like to be addressed as they pick a candidate this year. Here are some of the responses.
Name: Kozhandamma Perumal, 65
Occupation: Street sweeper, Bangalore
Most important issue: "We have not been paid salary for three months by the municipal corporation. They say the corporation is bankrupt. I will vote for any leader who promises timely salary."
Name: Vignesh Koodalingam, 32
Occupation: IT professional, Bangalore.
Most important issue: "Corruption, corruption, corruption. The only issue. It has undermined the image of this country."
Name: Prabhakar Srivastava, 40
Occupation: Optical store owner, Rae Bareli
Most important issue: “Every aspect of my life is affected by price rises, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. My Colgate toothpaste that once cost 10 rupees is now 100 rupees. Petrol for my Honda motorcycle to get to work has risen. Also the salaries for my employees. They are affected by price rises also.”
Name: Shruthi D.K., 23
Occupation: IT graduate seeking a job, Bangalore
Most important issue: "Can our politicians pay attention to women's safety? Bangalore is becoming more and more unsafe. We need more police on the street after 8p.m. and more street lights."
Name: Arunachalam Kullan, 35
Occupation: Welder, Bangalore
Most important issue: "I would like the new government to make bank loans easy for me. I would like to set up my own repair workshop but the bank says I am not credit-worthy for a loan. Even if I want to make a better life, I cannot."
Name: Mansur Khan, 24
Occupation: Sells footwear on the street, Bangalore
Most important issue: "Corruption is the biggest problem, it is shameful how they eat up money meant for the poor. I will vote but I doubt even a new government can end corruption. The system is too rotten."
Name: Meena Hanumanth, 38
Occupation: Sells freshly cooked snacks from a street cart, Bangalore
Most important issue: "I want a government that looks after the poor. I would like the new government to give low-cost homes for people like me. The government should also reduce price of cooking oil because it costs too much to fry the snacks to sell."
Name: Prashant Kaushik, 24
Occupation: Works in family printing press, New Delhi
Most important issue: "There should be no discrimination on the basis of caste or religion."
Name: Abdul Matin, 65
Occupation: Owns Sari business, Varanasi
Most important issue: “Security and safety of Muslim community is main demand.”
Name: A. Aziz Ansari, 74
Occupation: Weaver, Varanasi
Most important issue: "Communal unity between Hindus and Muslims."
Name: Tasleema, 35
Occupation: Tea stall owner, New Delhi
Most important issue: Tasleema says she is anti-Aam Admi Party (AAP), which she thinks may take away votes from the Congress Party. “They cannot solve our problems, how can I support them?”
You can see images from India's election campaign here.