Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Nilekani wants to contest LS polls, Congress willing


By V.S. Karnic

Bangalore, Dec 28 (IANS) Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is likely to become the first IT czar to contest Lok Sabha elections. He has told the Congress of his interest — and the party is considering his candidature.

Though there has been speculation for weeks that the Congress may field him from Karnataka, his home state, Nilekani has been coy about his intentions. The party was also reluctant to talk about it.

Now, the Karnataka Congress president, Parameshwara, has confirmed that Nilekani had met him and expressed his willingness to enter politics – and contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

“It is left to the party high command to decide whether to field him or not,” he said.

Parameshwara believes it will be “a matter of pride” if a man of Nilekani’s stature identifies himself with the Congress. He will also bring along youths associated with the IT/BT and corporate sectors.

Parameshwara did not indicate if Nilekani, now heading the Unique Identification Authority of India, has mentioned a constituency from where he would want to contest.

Speculation is rife that he may want to be a candidate from Bangalore South, held since 1996 by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s H.N. Anantha Kumar.

Bangalore South is a mix of upscale and poor localities but has sizable youth population working in the IT/BT sectors.

Parameshwara expects the party to finalise the list of candidates for the 28 Lok Sabha seats by January-end. The state unit will submit the list of probables for each constituency in early January.

The Karnataka Congress chief says the state unit, going by the advice of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, will try to give prominence to young candidates.

Indications are that the party has picked candidates for only 20 seats –as the eight sitting members are expected to be re-nominated.

The members are union ministers Mallikarjun Kharge (Gulbarga-SC), M. Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur), K.H. Muniyappa (Kolar-SC), N. Dharam Singh (Bidar), R. Dhruvanarayana (Chamarajanagar-SC), A.H. Vishwanath (Mysore), Ramya (Mandya) and D.K. Suresh (Bangalore Rural).

Ramya and Suresh won the seats in by-elections early this year.

Among the party veterans who reportedly want to contest though they have lost previous elections are former railway minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief and former junior finance minister B. Janardhana Poojary.

Rajya Sabha member B.K. Hariprasad is also seeking the ticket.

The BJP too has begun the exercise of finalising its candidates, but the task is likely to be completed only after the party decides whether or not to take back its former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa into the party.

The former chief minister, who is fighting several corruption cases against him and his family members, recently met party president Rajnath Singh when the latter visited Karnataka.

BJP leaders here expect a decision on Yeddyurappa by mid-January.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at [email protected])

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