NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Narendra Modi insisted Saturday that he would eradicate corruption in India but warned the problem started at the top and was eating away at the country "like a termite".
"I want to reaffirm that this nation will get rid of corruption. We can rid the country of corruption, we have to start from the top," he said in an independence day speech.
"Corruption is like a termite, it spreads slowly, reaches everywhere but it can be beaten with timely injections." Modi's speech comes after some of the most senior figures in his Bharatiya Janata Party became embroiled in corruption scandals, including Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states.
The scandals have been particularly embarrassing for Modi as the BJP's election victory last year was built in part on a commitment to clean up government after a series of scams under the previous Congress-led administration.
Modi said that there had been no allegations of money being siphoned off under his government but acknowledged there was still work to be done.
"Corruption has to be removed fully from the system," said the prime minister in a speech from the ramparts of Delhi's Red Fort.
"I don't just make speeches but we have worked on it. In the last 15 months of my government, there have not been any allegations of embezzling even a single rupee.
"With your support, I pledge a corruption-free India."