Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, escorted by thousands of supporters, drove through this stronghold of a rival party Saturday to begin his election campaign for the job he lost 15 months ago.

He was greeted with a massive reception arranged by his Congress Party, the richest and biggest in India.Hundreds of cars, trucks and jeeps followed Gandhi's open convertible as he drove from the airport to the center of Bhopal to address a rally.

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Rajiv Gandhi's India's star!" supporters shouted through loudspeakers atop some of the trucks.