India's political parties are trying to forge alliances for a possible coalition government, days before the results of the country's general election are released.
A day after voting in the month-long poll ended, leaders of the two main parties held strategy meetings Thursday to map out their plan for attracting coalition partners. The election results are expected on Saturday.
Several exit polls show a close race between the ruling alliance led by the Congress party and its main rival, the coalition headed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The surveys indicate a slight lead for the Congress-led grouping, but exit polls in India are notoriously unreliable, and neither alliance appears even close to having enough seats to win a parliamentary majority. Both are courting smaller and regional parties to try to make up the difference.
With 714 million eligible voters, India held its election in phases to ensure there was adequate staff and security forces to maintain order.
Separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir protested the elections, which they said legitimized New Delhi's rule of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP,
AP and Reuters.