In UPA's second stint, it was Rahul Gandhi who proposed the Infosys co-founder's candidature for a Cabinet berth. While the Gandhi scion was keen that Nilekani take up the portfolio of the human resources department, the top leadership including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, preferred a not so political role in the government.
The other option considered was to be a member in the Planning Commission which did not quite enthuse Nilekani. He preferred to take up the challenge of providing all Indians an unique identity, which not only required sound technical expertise and project implementation skills, but also the tact to deal with the bureaucracy.
With a strong backing from Sonia Gandhi, who believed in the idea and helped it gain political traction, and the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who provided him all the funds required, Nilekani slowly entrenched himself in New Delhi. The job itself required him to interact with politicians and other Cabinet ministers to make them see the political benefits of the UID idea.
Nilekani's home turf of Bengaluru will be an ideal playground for him to test his acceptability as a political person. But if Congress and Nikekani zero in on South Bengaluru as the constituency for him to contest from, he will be pitted against BJP's Ananth Kumar.