Indian opposition holds mass protest rally

Protesters in Delhi on 22 December 2010 More protests against alleged official sleaze are planning in the coming weeks

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About 20,000 opposition supporters have protested in Delhi against the ruling Congress party government's handling of a huge corruption investigation.

Parliament is deadlocked over demands for an inquiry into the sale of mobile telephony spectrum, estimated to have lost the exchequer billions of dollars.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance plans more protests nationwide in the coming weeks against sleaze.

But the Congress party accuses the BJP of hypocrisy.

Investigators are looking into why so-called 2G phone licences were sold for a fraction of their value, costing the government an estimated $37bn (£23bn) in lost revenue.

'Morally responsible'

A Raja, who quit as telecommunications minister over the matter, is expected to be questioned in the next couple of days by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Mr Raja, who denies any wrongdoing, is a member of the DMK party, an important member of the Congress-led ruling coalition.

Protesters in Delhi on 22 December 2010 There is anger in India over a recent number of high-profile corruption cases

During Wednesday's peaceful opposition protest at Delhi's Ramlila ground, BJP President Nitin Gadkari told the BBC there was plenty of evidence to suggest corruption went to the highgest echelons of government.

He said senior figures were "directly, indirectly, supporting all types of these corruption activities, and that's why they are morally responsible for that".

But the governing party said the BJP was merely the voice of vested interests.

"You have an all-out corporate war that has broken out, and at stake is the $50bn Indian telecom cake," Congress party spokesman Manish Tiwari told the BBC.

"And unfortunately the Bharatiya Janata Party, the principle opposition party, has been co-opted by some of the players in this corporate war. It is almost behaving like a front for some of these corporate entities."

The rally came days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a Congress party conference that he had "nothing to hide" from the 2G spectrum investigation.

He told a party meeting he was ready to be questioned by a parliamentary panel over the matter.

Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi told the same conference that graft was a "disease spreading through our society".

Another high-profile corruption inquiry is continuing into claims that organisers of the Delhi Commonwealth Games swindled millions of dollars from the October event.

Meanwhile, an apparent scam involving homes for war widows going to cronies in Maharashtra prompted the Congress party last month to sack the chief minister of the western Indian state.

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