Hoping to ride on not only his tech image but also a “desire for change” in a constituency dominated by one name for five terms, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, the Congress candidate in Bangalore South is all set to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar.
Although his candidature was announced by the Congress on Saturday, his official entry into the party happened at the Congress office here on Sunday where he got the first taste of the hustle-bustle surrounding a politician.
Leaving behind his CEO image, Mr. Nilekani sported a khadi kurta. He walked into the party office to a rousing welcome by dollu kunitha artistes amid slogans, drumbeats and cracker-bursting. He was presented with the traditional Mysore peta and the party scarf.
Mr. Nilekani, who claimed he had the support of all Congressmen in the State, spoke of his vision and strategies to ensure the party’s victory. A host of senior Congress leaders, including Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara, were present to welcome him. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, did not turn up.
Claiming that he is responsible for giving people a social identity through Aadhar (Unique Identification Number), Mr. Nilekani said “people want change and I am for the change. The Congress has existed for 130 years and let me assure you the Congress will be there for the next 100 years. For the next 40 days, my focus will be on Bangalore South and I am here to win.”
Ambassador of Bangalore
Mr. Nilekani, who has been harping on being a local candidate with a clean track record, said: “Bangalore needs a strong champion in Delhi ... I want to be the ambassador of Bangalore. Everywhere people tell me they want change. I am a local candidate, I was born in the government’s Vani Vilas Hospital. I have been a resident of Magadi Road, BTM Layout and now am in Koramangala.”
Brushing aside questions of corruption charges against the party and its members, he said: “It is not that the other party has a clean image either.”
Asked why people should vote for him, he said he had a vision for the constituency and the experience of heralding many unique things. “As a co-founder of Infosys, I know how to create jobs … I have created lakhs of them. Heading the UIDAI, I have been responsible in providing a social identity to 60 crore people. I am also aware of the nitty-gritty of local urban governance as the chairperson of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force from 1999 to 2004”, he said.
On what Bangalore South needed the most, Mr. Nilekani said: “I have been interacting with people for the last eight to ten weeks and I met a lady who works as a domestic help in three households. She wants her daughter to become a doctor. People here want education for their children and job opportunities. This apart, the constituency needs investments in infrastructure such as roads, public transport and water. With my experience in public, private and urban governance sectors, I think I will be able to deliver.”
“In business and politics, a time comes when one has to go. That time has come. I am here to win,” he added.