Voting in Indian's General Election opens on Monday (March 1) and will continue until March 10.
Voting in Indian's General Election opens on Monday (March 1) and will continue until March 10. As a curtain-raiser to our coverage of the personalities involved in the campaign. Most of these are from the Opposition parties - a film of Mrs. Gandhi's election campaign was serviced on 23 February.
SYNOPSIS: As India's General Election campaign reaches its climax, the emphasis is on domestic issues. The poll, which starts on Monday, will be the world's biggest. it will involve 280 million voters and 2,750 candidates.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi hopes to win a majority that will be strong enough to approve major reforms.
But she will have to beat her Congress Party's "old guard", now in Opposition - former Ministers like Morarji Desai and former party president Nijalingappa here seen trying to win control in 1969.
The main Opposition party is the Hindu nationalist Jan Sangh. It considers Mrs. Gandhi weak on Communism and Pakistan.
India's Maharajahs are another election issue. Mrs. Gandhi is eager to end their privileges and privy purses. She needs a two-thirds majority in the House of the People to amend the Constitution to abolish the royal order. The Princes are fighting hard to retain their opulent way of life.
In contrast to the Maharajahs are the Marxists, who are particularly strong in West Bengal. The election campaign there has been marked by violence, riots and murder. Some Indian Marxists support the Soviet Union; others, like the Naxalites, have links with Peking.
The West Bengal Communist leader Joyti Basu is a key figure in the election in India's main industrial state.
The Jan Sangh party is demanding a tougher line with India's Muslim neighbour and also against the continued occupation by Chinese troops of 35,000 square miles of Indian territory.
Mrs. Gandhi's opponents attack the "Nehru Dynasty" but Jagjivan Ram, leader of India's millions of Untouchables, gives her answering support. It is worth millions of votes.
Mrs. Gandhi is calling for an "economic miracle" to help the common people like these Harijans. When the election is over the battle against poverty and hunger will still be India's abiding political issue.