A new identity for Nandan Nilekani in run-up to polls

Written by Ajay Sukumaran | Bangalore | Updated: Mar 9 2014, 06:27am hrs
NandanWhen you vote in 2014, vote for a person who will be a voice for city?s people: Nandan Nilekani. PTI
If you are going online these days, chances are that you will bump into Nandan Nilekani at almost every click of the mouse. The former Infosys CEO and creator of Aadhaar is all over the Web, quite literally from advertisements popping up on search engines to social networks like Facebook; besides a five-month-old Twitter account that is keeping track of everything that the 58-year-old chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) does.

Now, theres no escaping the Nilekani phenomenon even in the real world. Households in south Bangalore have been receiving letters, personally addressed to them by Nilekani, which, quite to their surprise, have got nothing to do with his ambitious Aadhaar programme. Rather, they are an introduction to the new identity of the man, who has now made Bangalore his mission.

When you vote in 2014, vote for a person who will be a voice for the citys people and delivers on promises, goes Nilekanis letter. The plan is to reach these letters to voters across Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, which has a large middle-class presence that, like almost everything else in Bangalore, has felt the impact of the IT boom over the past two decades.

Nilekani told reporters in Bangalore on Saturday that he will officially join the Congress on Sunday. Im joining Congress tomorrow....If they give me Bangalore South, I will be happy to take it, he said.

The Infosys co-founder is already on the campaign trail, mingling with voters on morning walks, taking bus rides, speaking at colleges, visiting homes and apartment complexes as he gears up for the fight to wrest a seat thats been with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the past six terms. If given the constituency, Nilekani will face the BJPs national general secretary, HN Ananth Kumar, who has won the Bangalore South seat in five consecutive elections since 1996.

The message is very simple a local champion, born here, lived here most of the time and his track record of execution, said a person who is currently on a sabbatical from his regular job and campaigning for Nilekani.

Nilekanis tweets range from ideas for Bangalore to drawing attention to pressing issues such as water supply management theres even a weekly quiz based on the citys local landmarks. Nilekanis team members say the technology aspect also comes into play in running analytics on constituency data collected from various sources.

The Bangalore agenda is the mainstay of the connect Nilekani is trying to build, and it takes up from a decade ago when he headed the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, the citys first private-public committee aimed at improving civic amenities and infrastructure. Nilekanis direct mailers to voters also mention that contribution, besides his credentials as co-founder of Infosys and the chief of the Aadhaar project.

Bangalore South is also a seat that captain GR Gopinath, the founder of Indias first low-fare airline Air Deccan, contested as an independent candidate in 2009 and lost. Nilekani, however, can expect an existing support structure, as the seat comprises eight assembly segments, half of which are held by the Congress and the rest with the BJP.