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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

It's time for BJP's Ananth Kumar to go: Nilekani

HT Correspondent and IANS  Bangalore, March 09, 2014
First Published: 18:35 IST(9/3/2014) | Last Updated: 18:47 IST(9/3/2014)

Congress' high-profile candidate Nandan Nilekani, contesting from the prestigious Bangalore South parliamentary constituency, Sunday said it was time for his rival – BJP's Ananth Kumar – to go.

"There are times in business or politics when one has to go. I think time has come for him to go," Nilekani told reporters without taking Ananth Kumar's name in response to queries about what he thought of his prospects over his rival who had been representing the seat since 1996, winning it five consecutive times.

He told reporters he had all the credentials to enter the poll fray with vast experience in the private sector as well as public sector.

The Congress is fielding Nilekani from Bangalore South constituency, a middle-class centric constituency, known for its antipathy towards Congress since the late 1970s. BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar has won five times from this seat.

"I am proud and happy to join Congress and be its Lok Sabha candidate from Bangalore. My father was Nehru's follower and our ideology matches with that of the Congress," said Nilekani. "I have created lakhs of jobs and I have experience in private sector and city sector," he said.

"I have a clean background. Time has come for a change, so people in Bangalore south will vote for me," Nilekani added.

Asked about his political experience, he said his role in Aadhaar project was a political job.

Nilekani had expressed willingness to join Congress as early as January this year, saying ordinary citizens should join politics as "the biggest change can be brought about through politics".

"During my tenure as chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) since 2009, I had the opportunity to interact with political parties, their leaders, state governments and thousands of officials and people to know at firsthand the nuances of administration, governance and delivery of public services.

Asked if he considered himself lucky to be chosen to contest from the high-profile constituency even before he could formally join the party, Nilekani said his exposure to politics and government functioning over the past five years had convinced him that it was imperative to become a lawmaker to serve the people and contribute to the city's overall development.

"In addition to my association with the ruling establishment and political class, I have a clean image and contributed to the infrastructure growth of Bangalore as chairman of Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) from 1999-2004 under then chief minister SM Krishna," Nilekani recalled.

"As I was born and brought up in Bangalore, I would like to transform the city with world class infrastructure facilities and promote it as a model city by becoming its ambassador to the world," he said.

Admitting that no political party, including the Congress was free from corruption charges and accusations of misrule, the 58-year-old Nilekani said it was precisely to erase such a negative image that he was entering politics and contesting the elections.

"There is no point in indulging in a blame game. If you want to get rid of corruption, poor governance, poverty and all other ills plaguing the country, then the only way is to enter politics, become a lawmaker and do your best to change things for better," he said.

Seeking the support of party leaders and cadres in his campaign, Nilekani expressed hope that all classes of people, especially the youth, techies, professionals and women would vote for him and help the Congress win Bangalore South, which it last won in 1991.


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