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Nilekani to join ‘supportive’ Cong, fight LS elections

PTI  Bangalore, January 10, 2014
First Published: 19:07 IST(10/1/2014) | Last Updated: 08:36 IST(11/1/2014)

Ending speculation about his foray into politics, billionaire Infosys co-founder and head of Aadhar programme Nandan Nilekani on Friday said he would join the Congress and was ready to contest the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.

"Certainly. I believe I should do something on the political front. If Congress gives me a ticket, I will contest (the Lok Sabha elections this year)," he told reporters, making public his stand on the issue for the first time.

Nilekani, who is the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, said talks are going on about the constituency from which he should be contesting. He added that he would join Congress, which has been very "supportive" to him and his ideas.

The Congress is likely to field Nilekani from Bangalore South, a middle-class centric constituency, known for its antipathy towards Congress since the late 1970s, from where BJP General Secretary Ananth Kumar has won five times.

Nilekani said ordinary citizens should join politics and he would like to be part of this movement. "In India the biggest change can be brought about through politics and I want to be there," he said.

The country needs more good people from all fields including the corporate world, he said, adding politics is an instrument of change.

Nilekani had recently met KPCC chief G Parameshwara, who said the IT czar had shown interest in contesting from Bangalore South on a party ticket.

Rules stipulated that ticket seekers should serve in the party for three years but it could be relaxed by the party high command, Parameshwara had said.

Asked about the participatory democracy being practised by the Aam Aadmi Party, whose dream debut in Delhi Assembly polls is making waves in politics, Nilekani said, "We need to make democracy interactive and participatory."

Nandan Nilekani interacts with students of Christ College in Bangalore.(PTI photo)

However, at the same time, Nilekani said he did not believe that issues such as Kashmir should be discussed through an SMS poll.

After demitting office as Infosys CEO in 2007, Nilekani had taken charge as head of the Unique Identification Authority of India, mandated to give a billion Indians an identity card, an ambitious flagship programme of the UPA.

Nilekani had been maintaining silence on reports about his political plans, which had gained more currency after the KPCC reportedly shortlisted his name among the three probable candidates for Bangalore south recently.

Nilekani was at the receiving end of a jibe from his former Infosys colleague Mohandas Pai, who said in an interview, "There is deep concern among citizens that we are getting a person imposed from above to be an MP, who has not done grassroots work, not been around, who a particular party is trying to parachute here to be a nominee and fight."

A stung Nilekani had reportedly said, quoting Indira Gandhi, "in politics you need a thick skin".

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