India's Narendra Modi vows to eradicate corruption

Crowds turned out in force for Narendra Modi's Delhi rally, where Vineet Khare reports from

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The opposition candidate hoping to become India's next prime minister has said the government is too "addicted" to corruption to tackle the issue.

Narendra Modi vowed to eradicate the problem if he is elected to replace incumbent Manmohan Singh in 2014.

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata party candidate addressed thousands at a campaign launch rally in Delhi.

He blamed Mr Singh's Congress party-led coalition for making India a laughing stock through lack of development.

"The coalition is now addicted to corruption and instead of finding solutions to end the culture of graft, it stops functioning," Mr Modi said, according Agence France-Presse.

"India needs a dream team and not a dirty team in 2014 and people must decide that during the elections," he added.

Critics have called Mr Singh's government one of the most corrupt in India's history following incidents of bribery and other scandals that have prompted the resignation of several cabinet ministers.

Divisive figure
India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi waves to supporters as he arrives to address a public rally in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. Narendra Modi: India needs a dream team and not a dirty team in 2014

The BJP candidate also accused the prime minister of lacking the strength needed to tackle issues of cross-border violence, in talks on Sunday with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Modi, who made his name as the head of western Gujarat state, has emerged as a divisive figure in Indian politics.

He is credited with transforming Gujarat's economic fortunes with years of double digit growth, but as a Hindu nationalist he could cost his party millions of Muslim votes.

Mr Modi has denied allegations he allowed 2002 religious riots that killed more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, and rejected calls for an apology.

The BBC's Joanna Jolly, in Delhi, said Mr Modi's rousing speech was greeted enthusiastically by the thousands who had gathered to hear him.

She said the address marked the beginning of what is likely to become a fiercely-fought campaign ahead of the vote likely to be held before the end of next May.

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