The Congress has reportedly admitted him in the party because his clean image may give it a leverage over the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi who is a hit among the middle-class voters.
So much for the scam-hit, wary of inflation and fed-up of political drama country that we are, Nandan Nilekani, former UIDAI chief has plunged into politics. He has joined Congress and is reported to contest 2014 elections from Bangalore in the near future.
He may be riding a war horse right now because the former CEO of Infosys is a darling of the IT professionals. The Bangalore seat will just serve his purpose if he wins.
The Congress has reportedly admitted him in the party because his clean image may give it a leverage over the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi who is a hit among the middle-class voters. But the ruling party must not fly high while thinking so.
The obscure UIDAI project, which was a mere idea of giving voluntary identity to the people, has earned a lot of criticism for Nilekani from the IT professionals and the urban middle class voters which Congress is reportedly trying to woo. The UIDAI project, although gradually being made an actual “Aadhaar” than a voluntary one, has hit many roadblocks since its start. The project is now over but there are lakhs and crores of Aadhaar card yet to be delivered and their use is yet to pick up pace and wider validity.
His induction must not be seen as a surprise though. When he was tasked with the UIDAI project in 2009 by the Manmohan Singh led UPA government, he was given the rank of a cabinet minister. While UIDAI was just another addition to the number of ID card people of the country possessed, Nilekani was able to spend extra 10,000 crore on it during 2011-2012 (after spending Rs 673 crore between January 2009 and November 2011). His proposal although was rejected at first as the home ministry under P Chidambaram was doing the same work for its National Population Register (NPR). But his closeness with the UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and his son Rahul Gandhi, and the fact that the UIDAI was a pet project of then finance minister, now President of the country, Pranab Mukherjee, made way for acceptance of his demands.
The closure of UIDAI project had raised questions about Nilekani’s future. For the UPA government, who had just spent so much money on a non-sensical idea for that time through Nilekani, it was a good idea to project him as the face of the developing country full of IT professionals. Although Nilekani will have to resign from his seat of cabinet minister, but he must be elated at the prospect of winning the elections and becoming (who knows?!) an actual minister.
According to the reports in the media, Nilekani has a home in the posh Koramangala area that is part of the Bangalore South constituency. This seat is currently held by BJP’s Ananth Kumar. Kumar is a five-time sitting MP. According to a report in Asian Aage, Kumar is expected to be shunted to second-tier city and his hometown Hubli as the RSS is pushing for popular cricketer Anil Kumble in a bid to ensure that at least 18-20 seats of the 28 from Karnataka are mopped up by the BJP.
The chaos which is inside Congress rightnow after anointment of Narendra Modi and due to upcoming assembly elections in many states, including Delhi, may hit Nilekani. The Congress has just reached the bad business arena and is trying to save itself by devising social security schemes, which are again bad business, to gain votes.
The billionaire businessman must be aware of the situations where one should bail out of the bad business. The question is: will he?