Former Infosys chief and head of the UID project Nandan Nilekani is ready to take on five-time MP Ananth Kumar. He fiercely defends Aadhar, sees AAP as a good signal and says he will win. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to join the Congress?
The Congress-led UPA government gave me the opportunity to get a lot of things done. I was able to fulfill the promise that by 2014, 60 crore people would have the Aadhaar number. The other equally important reason is my belief that we need a party that represents the interests of all of us. People in farms, factories and offices, the small shopowner, the pavement dweller, the office-goer, the large businessman. It is this value that made this country, and it is this value that will sustain it.
What are your views on corruption?
Corruption is a systemic issue that we need to address by strengthening our institutions, and making sure that the law is able to follow through. Delays and weak institutions allow criminals to get away and discourage the honest.
How do you rate Congress’s chances in the nation election?
The Congress has a good chance. People should take a strong look at the government’s track record.
What are your talking points in the campaign?
It is not about ‘talking points’, it’s about what we need. My focus is therefore to get my city the funding and projects it needs to thrive.
How would you assess AAP?
AAP is a good signal of the energy on the ground. People are looking for people who deliver concrete results. Whether AAP can deliver — I think the jury is still out on that.
Who in the party inspires you more? Rahul or Sonia Gandhi?
Both are very inspirational, both due to the dedication they show to the country and the party.
How do you react to the criticism that Aadhar and the DBT project has failed in large parts of the country?
I absolutely disagree. The Aadhaar programme has been extremely successful. But we should implement it in DBT at the right speed, so people are not excluded because they don’t have the Aadhaar number.
What are your plans if you lose the election?
I will win this election.
What is your response when some say “you are in the wrong place and at the wrong time”?
I don’t think there is such a thing. Simply by participating, we shape our present. Unless each of us who are passionate about our country steps in, we will not see the transformation we believe in.