The Telegraph
Thursday , February 27 , 2014
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Infy vs Infy buzz as Bala waits

Bangalore, Feb. 26: If he is iffy, blame it on Infy.

V. Balakrishnan, the Aam Aadmi Party’s star catch in Karnataka, is undecided on contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and sources say it may be because of the Infosys connection.

The infotech stalwart, they say, perhaps wants to avoid a direct clash with his former colleague Nandan Nilekani.

Balakrishnan, one of the founders of Infosys, was expected to contest from Bangalore South against Nilekani, whom the Congress has officially recommended for the seat to take on BJP heavyweight and five-time MP Ananth Kumar.

While the sources claimed Balakrishnan might contest from Bangalore Central, mainly to avoid a brush with Nilekani and Kumar, a party spokesperson said these were only “speculations”.

“Bala (as he is fondly called) is yet to agree to contest,” AAP spokesperson Rohit Ranjan said, adding that things could change closer to when nominations are filed.

But one thing is certain: Balakrishnan is not among those who have applied for an AAP ticket.

Balakrishnan — whose resignation from Infosys, announced on December 20, had been as much of a surprise as the news of his joining Arvind Kejriwal’s party — was not available for comment.

The AAP, which appears serious about Karnataka, had been left with Balakrishnan as its sole star contestant after Capt. C.R. Gopinath, the founder of India’s first budget airline, Air Deccan, declared himself unavailable as a nominee.

The party is now trying to make the best of the situation. “It is yet to decide on how many seats to contest from. But it’s likely that we’ll be there in a good number of the total seats from the state,” spokesperson Ranjan said.

Karnataka, now ruled by the Congress, sends 28 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

An AAP source said the party could “always make last-minute adjustments” to nominate even those who may not have applied.

The state Congress has officially recommended Nilekani to take on Kumar in Bangalore South. With even the BJP worried about Kumar’s waning popularity, the AAP could have tightened the contest by fielding someone like Balakrishnan.

In fact, many in the constituency had been looking forward to a close three-way fight.

As things stand now, that appears unlikely. But Ranjan said the party would look for someone who can put up a good fight. “We will surely look at a strong candidate in Bangalore South, which is a prestigious seat,” the spokesperson said.

There was no hint who that might be.