• MSN Elections 2014 Battle for India
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 01:00:00 GMT | By The Hindu Business Line

From the boardroom to Bangalore’s bylanes

Former Infosys CFO and AAP candidate V Balakrishnan’s campaign style is marked by close interactions with voters; says caste will not play a major role in these elections


From the boardroom to Bangalore’s bylanes (© Reuters)

“Sir, don’t vote for Aam Admi Party. (Arvind) Kejriwal has taken money.” V Balakrishnan, or ‘Bala’, the AAP candidate from Bangalore Central, is taken aback for a moment just as he is about to shake hands with one of voters in his constituency.

The man who accuses Kejriwal, takes out his visiting card from his shirt pocket and hands it over to Bala. The name on the card catches Bala by surprise. The card is that of an organisation called ‘Aam Aadmi Foundation,’ which calls itself a non-political party, and is in the name of Siddiq Sait.

Bala pockets the card and pats the man on his back and walks past him. The former Infosys CFO, Balakrishnan, is in Shivaji Nagar, one of the oldest localities in Bangalore where a majority of Muslims in the city live. His padayatra which began at 1 p.m. has already taken him to two mosques and several busy streets in the locality.

In one of the mosques, a few Muslim leaders escorting Bala, ask him to stand close to the gate so that he can meet more people. “Sir, he is a very important person and close friend of mine,” one of them introduces Bala to his friend. There are more such ‘friends’ and Bala makes it a point to shake hands with each one of them.

Some of them get close to him and take a snap using their mobile phones which Bala willingly obliges. Clearly, Bala is enjoying all the attention, but is a bit self-conscious as well. His campaign manager, Major Aditi, keeps walking back and forth, expertly avoiding the traffic to distribute handouts to curious bystanders. The next stop is another mosque. Here too Bala is made to stand at the gate of the mosque.

Bala and his friends are more articulate now and keep telling the people that if they want their living conditions to improve, they should vote for AAP. “Look, you live in such narrow lanes. There is so much of crowd. You don’t have good sanitation. Therefore, you should vote for the AAP if you want conditions to improve.”

Caste politics

Clearly, Bala, 48, sees himself as the favourite to win from his constituency. He believes caste will not play a major role in the general elections this time. “For the first time in Bangalore, candidates have become more important,” Bala points out.

He claims that the incumbent MP, PC Mohan, who is contesting on the BJP ticket, is hardly to been seen around. “There are very few who have seen him. I must be the only one who has been meeting most of the voters every day. Such interactions make a huge difference on polling day.”

Bala believes his party will sweep elections in Delhi but is not so sure whether it will be able to align with any other parties to help form the Government.

When asked if GR Gopinath will campaign for the party, he says Gopinath has promised to campaign after they met during a morning walk in one of the parks.

“He will campaign for us at certain places at a later stage.”

Bala and his band of faithfuls wind up the campaign at Shivaji Nagar a couple of hours later, but not before one of those accompanying them asks Aditi if they will get lunch for him. “No. That would mean violating the election code,” she replies firmly.

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