India's election campaign has effectively kicked off, with hawkish comments on Pakistan and demands a Hindu temple be built over a former mosque charging the political atmosphere. India's election commission is still discussing the final election dates, although the polls must be held by May. That has not stopped India's most powerful politicians from joining the fray in rallies that could set the tone of the campaign between the Congress-led government and the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The elections come as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh battles a combination of an economic slowdown, higher consumer prices and jittery security after the militant attacks in India's financial hub in November that killed 179 people. The head of ruling Congress party has upped the rhetoric against Pakistan in the past week as part of a campaign to show a tough stance on terrorism. India blames the Mumbai attacks on militants linked to Pakistan's spy agency. "Those who are aiding and abetting terrorism from across the border will get a fitting reply," Sonia Gandhi, India's most powerful politician, told a party meeting at the weekend. Hundreds of BJP leaders met in the western city of Nagpur at the weekend, making headlines after senior leader Rajnath Singh said the party would push for the construction of a temple that has been a flashpoint of tension between Hindus and Muslims. The BJP had sought the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya on the site of a 16th century mosque torn down by mobs in 1992. They were forced to abandon plans during their last 1999-2004 government after opposition from secular allies.