04/03/2014, 00.00
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Indian elections: IT bosses running for seats in Bangalore

Nandan Nilekani (Congress) and V Balakrishnan (Aam Aadmi Party) are former executives for Infosys, one of India's largest information technology (IT) companies. Both want to be a new and transparent alternative in the country's political landscape, far from the corruption that has tired so many voters.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) - Two of India's leading information technology figures - Nandan Nilekani and V Balakrishnan - are running for a seat in Bangalore in this year's parliamentary election.

The two are former executives in high tech company Infosys, one of India's main information technology (IT) firms. Both are vying for votes relying on their standing for corporate accountability and good governance.

Nandan Nilekani, 58, co-founder and former CEO of Infosys, is running for Congress. V Balakrishnan or Bala, 50, Infosys's former CFO, is running for the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, founded by anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kerjiwal.

It is the first time that two high-profile executives with such formidable backgrounds have entered the murky waters of Indian electoral politics. Fittingly, the battle is in Bangalore - seat of Infosys headquarters.

With a population ten million, Asia's fastest growing city unleashed middle-class aspirations in India with a technology services industry that has won international renown.

To sweep away accusations of corruption against Congress, Mr Nilekani has disclosed his and his wife's assets to be US$ 1.26 billion, mostly in shares.

In his canvassing, Mr Nilekani emphasises his middle class roots in an attempt to stress his "if I can, you can too" message. Born in a government-run hospital, he went to school in the city where his father worked as a textile mill manager.

At a recent, crowded meeting at a south Bangalore college, he told students, "Every one of you deserves the same chance that I got, and my mission is to expand job opportunities for India's young people."

For Mr Balakrishnan, "Corruption is the biggest tax that Indians have to pay". Hence, they "want to change the whole system"'

Speaking to students at a recent, crowded meeting at a south Bangalore college, he noted that such a prospect could only come with clean candidates with no political lineage or vested interests.

Indeed, "If India gets clean, honest politicians, governance itself is not rocket science."

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