From new economy leaders to young volunteers, all are pledging support to Captain G.R. Gopinath, who pioneered India's low-cost airline Air Deccan, as he prepares to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the high profile Bangalore South constituency.
The 54-year-old former army officer-turned sericulturist and aviation entrepreneur is taking on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar, who is seeking re-election from Bangalore South for the fifth time in a row.
Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath, Gopi to his friends and colleagues, is not deterred by the BJP's organising capability or the conspiracy theories surrounding his intention to jump into the poll fray.
Among the theories making the rounds is that Gopinath is being propped up by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to scuttle Ananth Kumar's chances. Yeddyurappa, BJP's first chief minister in southern India, and Ananth Kumar are competing to control the state party unit.
Talking to IANS after announcing he will contest from Bangalore South, Gopinath rubbished this speculation.
"I am in the fray on behalf of people. I decided to contest after being encouraged and motivated by a cross-section of Bangaloreans. Right from my friends in the IT and BT world to youths of Bangalore, all have asked me to contest," he said.
"I am fighting to win and bring change to society. I am not for any party. Otherwise I would have joined some known political party. I am joining politics to bring good governance and social harmony," he said.
The election is his second attempt at the hustings. He contested on the BJP ticket for the Karnataka assembly in 1994 from a constituency in his home district, Hassan. He lost.
On Sunday, Gopinath met about 50 young volunteers who came to pledge their support. "The number of young volunteers is growing by the day," he said.
"I am against the current crop of political parties that grease people's palm and distribute liquor to get votes. I will involve volunteers and garner people's support to win," he added.
Gopinath said that he zeroed in on the Bangalore South constituency after hours of discussions with his close friends, including Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Infosys Technologies director T.V. Mohandas Pai, and fashion designer Prasad Bidapa.
Asked why she is supporting Gopinath, Mazumdar-Shaw told IANS: "He has always been a change maker. I am sure his win will ensure changes in social, political and economic realms."
Pai said: "All professional people have great admiration for Captain Gopinath. He is the epitome of the middle and professional class. In the last decade Gopinath gave wings to the dreams of the middle class."
Among the volunteers are 24-year-old IT professional Ajay Nair and 19-year-old college student Subho Saha.
Nair said Gopinath was a symbol of India's new found growth and development.
"His work in giving India its first low fare airline is a testimony to his determination to bring growth and development, much needed by the country. We need honest and dedicated leaders. I am going to work as his volunteer to help him win," Nair told IANS.
Gopinath's wife Bhargavi and daughters Pallavi and Krithika will join the campaign.
He intends to target all sections of Bangalore, from IT professionals to slum dwellers.
"I want to bring prosperity to the rural population also and bring equitable progress for one and all," he said.
Bangalore South is among 17 of the 28 constituencies in the state which will vote in the first phase April 23. On April 30, voting will take place in the remaining 11 constituencies.
Gopinath exited the no-frills, low cost airlines business last year, selling his controlling stake in Air Deccan to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who runs Kingfisher Airlines. He is now busy launching a cargo service which is scheduled to take off May-end.
(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at email@example.com)