NEW DELHI--A prominent Indian comedian is taking aim at the country's notoriously corrupt political elite by starting up his own party that promises to bribe as many voters as possible.
Jaspal Bhatti, known for his biting satire on Indian TV shows, unveiled his new party and field of candidates on Thursday -- saying he hoped to give the big parties a run for their dirty money.
"The world is talking of economic slowdown but there is no recession for our politicians, who are spending millions to win seats in parliament," Bhatti said.
He said his new "Recession Party" did not have enough cash to outspend the big political players, but would instead handsomely reward contributors if elected.
"The Recession Party will not spend a single cent but anyone who funds our campaign will share the profits after our candidates become MPs and start earning. It's a business proposition," the humorist said.
If campaign money does become available, he added, "we will offer liquor and money to bribe voters and we will do it in a transparent manner."
India's Election Commission confirmed it had received a request from Bhatti to contest the polls and that it was looking into the application.
Politicians in India from all parties are widely viewed by many voters as being fundamentally corrupt, with a seat in parliament considered to be a ticket to personal enrichment rather than an act of civic duty.
According to the Centre for Media Studies, a private Indian think-tank, at least 100 billion rupees (two billion dollars) will be spent on the campaign for this month's general elections.
It also says as much as 25 billion rupees of the outlay has been earmarked for "unofficial" cash purchases of votes.