India will announce results of five state elections on Saturday, which many are seeing as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The main focus will be on Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous and politically significant state.
Exit polls say the BJP will win, but these have been proven wrong before.
These are strong promises in an impoverished state where caste, family and religious affiliations are deeply entrenched.
The current chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, told BBC Hindi on Thursday that “secular forces” needed to unite to keep out the BJP – a comment widely being seen as an overture to his bitter rival, Dalit icon and four-time chief minister Mayawati.
Many analysts say that she could well be the surprise factor this election.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, results will be declared in the northern states of Punjab and Uttarakhand, the western state of Goa and the north eastern state of Manipur.