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Election results are a mixed bag for corporate honchos

Arpita Mukherjee     May 16, 2014

If the election results are anything to go by, it is clear that the ability to strategise, manage large teams, companies even, is not always enough to get voters to push the button in your favour.  

First timers and ex-Infosys executives, Nandan Nilekani (Indian National Congress) and V Balakrishnan (Aam Aadmi Party) failed to get the people's mandate in South and Central Bangalore, respectively. Meera Sanyal, a former banker and an AAP candidate from South Mumbai, too is likely to lose.   

Jayant Sinha, a Harvard educated investor, and Jayadev Galla, Managing Director of Amara Raja Batteries Limited, are likely to be elected to the Lok Sabha but both have political connections. Sinha, son of former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, was leading from the Hazaribagh constituency in Jharkhand as a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate.

He was ahead of his closest competitor, Saurabh Narain Singh, of Indian National Congress by 159,128 votes at 6:30 pm. And, Galla, a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, too has likely benefited from his family's political and business connections in the region. Galla Aruna Kumari, Galla's mother, has been a state minister.


"At one level, a voter is no different from a customer," Galla, a former chairman of the Andhra Pradesh chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry  had told Business Today, adding that his focus on jobs and literacy has worked in his favour. He was 65,560 votes ahead of his closest competitor at 6:30 pm .

In April, Business Today had tracked the campaigns of the corporate honchos who stepped out of boardrooms to take the plunge in electoral politics. All of them campaigned extensively in their constituencies and also used the social media to reach out to the electorate.


Contesting from one of the bellwether seats in Karnataka, Nilekani, was well behind BJP veteran Ananth Kumar in the South Bangalore (Karnataka) constituency, trailing by over 229,020 votes at 6:30 pm. "Campaigning is a most emotionally and physically exhausting exercise," the Infosys co-founder and former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, had told Business Today, during his campaign.

Sanyal, former CEO and chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland's India operations, had in 2009 also contested as an independent. This time around her campaign strategy focused on organising "Swaraj Baithak"  -  small gathering of people in different localities of her urban Mumbai constituency - yatras, door to door campaigns along with social media and the traditional media. Balakrishnan, barely got a few weeks to influence people and focused on issues of corruption, change and swaraj. 


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