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Bangalore 'stakeholders' bullish on former Infy man

April 04, 2014 12:38 IST

Bangalore 'stakeholders' bullish on former Infy man

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore

Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa joins the campaign trail with former Infosys chief financial officer V Balakrishnan in Bangalore Central constituency. 

He has swapped the dapper business suit for the humble kurta-pyajama. And the pen for the jhadoo.

He has moved from the boardroom to the dusty streets. A corporate honcho till a few months ago, former Infosys chief financial officer V Balakrishnan today is simply an aam aadmi.

As Balakrishnan tests the political waters, he is up against seasoned neta of the Bharatiya Janata Party, PC Mohan, who is seeking re-election from the Bangalore Central constituency, the Congress’s young gun Rizwan Arshad, and Janata Dal-Secular’s dancer candidate Nandini Alva. 

But the former Infy icon is confident of imitating his boardroom success in the business of politics as well.

“It is a different set-up all together,” says the Aam Aadmi Party candidate, as he talks of the transition from the swanky corridors of Infosys, as he campaigns through the hustle and bustle of Bangalore’s Ashok Nagar and Russel market areas.

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Image: AAP's V Balakrishnan poses for shutterbugs in the middle of a hectic election campaign.


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“But I am enjoying it. This is a challenge for me and I will live up to it. The kind of people I meet every day is very different from what I met in my earlier field. But these are my stakeholders now,” he says with a smile.  

Balakrishnan is not a familiar face for Bangalore Central's common man, but he’s a “breath of fresh air,” says the janata.  

Venu, a tea vendor, and Raghavendra, a sweet stall owner, feel that it would be good to have a “different” candidate this time. “We are sure that he will work hard for the constituency.”

Does old-timer Mohan have reason to worry? There are complaints galore against him, but voters feel “he may just scrape through”. What they want is a candidate who will be part of the ruling government at the Centre. The chances of the Aam Aadmi Party are bleak and this may just go against Balakrishnan, they say.

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Image: AAP volunteers play the guitar as Balakrishnan watches on during a campaign.


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However, AAP supporters feel Balakrishnan stands a good chance. “It is not necessary that a person who is part of the government will work. An MP is granted funds and if he uses it correctly, he can improve a constituency irrespective of whether his government is in power or not,” said a Balakrishnan backer.

Traffic congestion, lack of proper drinking water, poor illumination of roads, flooding in the rains and encroachments plague Bangalore Central. Balakrishnan is quick to take up these issues and assure his listeners a better life. “We are steering clear of caste and minority issues here. Our only agenda is to provide better infrastructure and a good standard of living,” says the AAP leader.

Bangalore Central is a relatively new constituency carved out around six years ago. It has 17,91,689 voters and is home to eight assembly constituencies out of which four are held by the Congress. The BJP holds three while the Janata Dal-Secular has one.

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Image: Balakrishnan enjoys a light moment during his campaign.


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Caste equations have a role to play in the constituency with the minorities large in number. Mohan found himself lucky in 2009 because of the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular’s choice of candidates.   

H T Sangliana from the Congress and Zameer Ahmed battled it out for minority votes then, which resulted in a split and gave Mohan the advantage.

But this year the scenario is different. The Congress has gone with Rizwan Arshad, who they picked over veteran C K Jaffer Sharief. The JD-S has fielded a weak candidate in Nandini Alva.    

Out of the 17.9 lakh-strong electorate, over eight lakh are under 35 years of age. The BJP and AAP are in a tug-of-war over the young voters, while the Congress is relying on its old supporters, especially from the minority community.

But will Mohan be second time lucky? He prays and chants the NaMo mantra well aware that the minority votes will not come his way. He hopes for a 2009 repeat -- a split in the Muslim votes.

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Image: BJP's PC Mohan campaigns in Bangalore Central.


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And will the Congress’s young gun fire? Rizwan, 34, is part of Team Rahul.

He jumped to his boss's defence over his controversial remark on the Inter-Services Intelligence’s efforts to recruit Muzzafarnagar riot victims.

But Rizwan appears to have learnt his lessons quickly. “My agenda will not revolve around caste matters. I have a to-do list, which includes waste management, water, infrastructure, traffic and citizen safety.”

The JD-S's surprise candidate, Nandini Alva, mother-in-law of Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi, is a subdued campaigner. Her focus this poll season is on rainwater harvesting, urban slum and poverty alleviation and transport.

An underdog, the move to field Alva was a deliberate one. “We did not want to field a Muslim as they felt it would give the BJP an advantage like it did in 2009,” says a JD-S leader. 

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Image: Congressman Rizwan Arshad interacts with leaders of the minority community.
Photographs: @RizzArshad/Twitter

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