Nandan Nilekani joins Congress, faces tough battle on political debut

Mar 09 2014, 19:56 IST
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SummaryNandan Nilekani formally joined the Congress, a day after it made him party candidate for Bangalore Lok Sabha.

Billionaire Infosys co-founder and face of "Aadhar" programme Nandan Nilekani formally joined the Congress today, a day after it made him party candidate for Bangalore Lok Sabha constituency where he is up for a tough fight.

Amid drumbeats, Nilekani, Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, was welcomed into Congress by KPCC President G Parameshwara who handed over the party flag to him before he filled in the membership form at a function at party office here.

"Bangalore needs a strong champion in Delhi and I'm set to provide that," said 58-year old Nilekani, known for being part of building Infosys, started in 1981 with an initial capital of USD 250 by N R Narayana Murthy and others, into a behemoth that is seen as showpiece of Indian IT industry.

On his political baptism, Nilekani will take on BJP's Ananth Kumar, who has remained unchallenged in Bangalore South, winning the seat five times.

Middle-class dominated Bangalore South has been electorally hostile to Congress since the late 1970s, the sole exception being its victory in 1989 when former Chief Minister R Gundu Rao had won.

On facing a strong candidate like Kumar, Nilekani said "In every profession, politics or business there comes a time when somebody has to go, and that time has arrived."

Weeks before his formal entry into Congress, Nilekani had begun his campaign, coming to grips with ground realities as he faces a daunting task to reach out to 20 lakh plus voters with the polls in Karnataka slated for April 17.

"I think the constituency needs a clean, capable local person, somebody who has worked selflessly; ....everywhere I go there is a strong desire for change. I have got tremendous support," he added.

Asked if allegations of corruption against Congress-led UPA government would affect his prospects, he said " is not that the other party (BJP) has a great clean image either, we know the problems we had for the last five years in the state."

"I look forward to working with the party because party is going through change; I have been invited to be part of the change, I would like to do that," Nilekani said. "....I'm confident that I will be an ambassador for Bangalore. I will work with all the MLA's, Chief Minister and Congress President to make sure that Bangalore gets the best deal," Nilekani said.

Stating that he is experienced in public sector, private sector

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