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India anti-corruption champion accuses rivals of selling out to big business

VARANASI, India--Firebrand anti-corruption champion Arvind Kejriwal accused his rivals in India's elections on Wednesday of selling out to big business by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars to bankroll their campaigns.

As he arrived in Varanasi to file his nomination papers and line up a contest against frontrunner Narendra Modi, Kejriwal said India's democratic future was at stake in the ongoing elections.

“The people of India have to decide what kind of democracy they want,” Kejriwal, who is leader of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, told hundreds of supporters in the holy city on the banks of the Ganges.

“Do you want a democracy of neighborhoods, streets and villages or a helicopter democracy?” he said in a jibe at Modi who is due to fly in on Thursday to file his nomination and Rahul Gandhi, the ruling Congress party's frontman.

Both Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have assembled massive war chests for the six-week election, filing the airwaves and dominating newspaper frontpages with advertisements.

While there have been no official figures, Kejriwal said the parties had spent around 150 billion rupees (around US$2.5 billion) on adverts.

“You turn on the TV or you look at the papers or the billboards and you see the political adverts everywhere,” he said.

“My friends, where are they getting this money from?

“Whoever gives them (the money), after the elections they will want their money back and more. And where will this money come from? From the pockets of you and me.

“We have to end this kind of democracy, and establish the rule of the people.”

Kejriwal, a former tax inspector, stunned Indian politics in December when he came to power in Delhi's state elections on a wave of growing voter anger over levels of corruption.

However his decision to quit as the capital's chief minister after only 49 days is seen as having undermined much of his popularity and few analysts expect him to beat Modi in the most high-profile contest of the election which wraps up on May 12.

Results of the world's largest elections are due four days later.

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