The world's largest democracy votes next month and it appears that the result is uncertain, depending mostly on the results and willingness to join coalitions of smaller parties rather than on the main two.
As India braces for another split verdict in the forthcoming general election, Mahesh Rangarajan analyses the decline of the country's national parties.
India is completing a decade in which coalitions dominated by one or the other have held power.
Neither of the premier parties, Congress or the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is confident of leading their respective alliances to full power this time....
Yet, the Congress is a shadow of its former self. It last secured a clear majority in the 543-member lower house of the parliament a quarter of a century ago.
Its present coalition is sustained by an array of regional parties, who are now busy driving hard bargains in seat sharing.
Its rival, the BJP, is seeing its alliance actually fall apart.
For the first time since 1998, it will have no ally in two key southern states, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
It's a familiar story, really.