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Bala makes online entry

Bangalore, Jan. 2: Former Infosys director V. Balakrishnan had joined the Aam Aadmi Party like a — well — aam aadmi, enrolling online without so much as a hint to the party’s state unit, it was claimed today.

The infotech stalwart, whose entry into politics has become a talking point, had apparently enlisted through the party website, which has a feature that allows anyone to become a member by paying Rs 10.

“He joined online like many others are doing, especially after we did well in Delhi, but absolutely nothing is known about his plans,” party spokesperson Rohit Ranjan told The Telegraph here today.

“Our leaders will meet him in a few days to understand his plans. I think people expect too much from Balakrishnan’s joining our party.”

Ranjan dismissed as “premature” the buzz about Balakrishnan contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore, saying: “We haven’t even had a preliminary discussion with him.”

This newspaper’s efforts to contact the 48-year-old Balakrishnan — “Bala” to IT circles — were unsuccessful. He largely stayed incommunicado, speaking only to a couple of business television channels.

Balakrishnan had recently teamed up with former Infosys colleague Mohandas Pai and two others to float a venture capital fund called Exfinity, targeting tech start-ups.

His resignation from Infosys, announced on December 20 and effective December 31, had been as much of a surprise as the news of his joining the AAP, which broke yesterday.

Balakrishnan’s move comes on the heels of state Congress president G. Parameshwar indicating that Nandan Nilekani, an Infosys co-founder who left to head the Aadhaar programme, might become a Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Bangalore.

Pai, a former Infosys director who now heads the education arm of the Manipal Group, told this newspaper he was all for educated people joining politics.

“It’s good that well-educated people are joining political parties,” said Pai.

“The biggest gain would be that many of them wouldn’t have to make any money (as they are already wealthy). This will eventually reduce corruption.”

Talk of Nilekani contesting from Bangalore South, which elected the BJP’s Ananth Kumar the last five times, has led to speculation whether more corporate bigwigs would come out to contest elections.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Bangalore-based Biocon Limited, told reporters that Balakrishnan’s entry into the AAP was of great importance.

“This shows that the rise of the AAP in Delhi has had its impact all over the country,” she said, wishing Balakrishnan well.

Asked if she would be the next to join politics, Shaw said: “Right now I’m busy with many things. But let’s have this discussion 10 years from now.”