South Asia

India leader LK Advani begins anti-graft campaign

LK Advani
Image caption Mr Advani has undertaken such yatras (marches) in the past

India's main opposition leader LK Advani has begun a 38-day journey across the country as part of a campaign to protest against corruption.

The 83-year-old leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) began his journey in an improvised vehicle from the northern state of Bihar.

Mr Advani will meet supporters and hold public meetings during his journey.

Analysts say he is projecting himself as a prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.

But Mr Advani has denied this saying that the party "will decide on who will become the prime minister when the elections come".

Mr Advani began his Jan Chetna Yatra (National Consciousness March) from Sitab Diara village in Bihar's Saran district.

The choice of the place to launch the campaign is significant - India's legendary socialist leader, the late Jayaprakash Narayan, was born in Sitab Diara.

'Public anger'

"There has been a rise in public anger and there is no doubt that the reason for such anger is the ruling government," Mr Advani told reporters ahead of the march.

The government has been hit by a series of corruption allegations in recent months, and is under pressure to come up with strong anti-graft laws.

Mr Advani said he would also raise the issue of the flight of illicit money from India and judicial and electoral reform during his journey across two dozen states.

The ruling Congress party said Mr Advani's campaign was a ploy by the BJP to force a mid-term election.

"The objective of this campaign is how 2014 can be fast forwarded to 2012, something which is not going to happen," party spokesman Manish Tewari was quoted as saying by The Indian Express newspaper.

Mr Advani has undertaken such campaigns in the past.

In 1990, he travelled across India, whipping up support for a campaign to build a temple on the site of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

That led to the destruction of the mosque by Hindu hardliners, followed by some of India's worst religious violence since partition.

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