The Congress will field Infosys co-founder and UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani from Bangalore South. The Central Election Committee of the party which met on Monday is learnt to have
began finalising candidates for the Lok Sabha elections and discussed candidates in 100 seats.
Although there was another name in contention for Bangalore South, sources said the party cleared Nilekani’s name without much discussion. Considered close to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the decision to field Nilekani was taken at the highest level. Bangalore South is represented by BJP general secretary and former Union minister Ananth Kumar.
It was not clear whether Kumar will contest from the seat, which he won the last five times. There were talks of Kumar scouting for another seat.
By fielding Nilekani, who rose from a middle-class background to become one of the pioneers of Indian IT revolution, the Congress appears to be reaching out to the urban middle class perceived to be disenchanted with the Congress and the UPA government.
With an impeccable list of achievements and a spotless image, Nilekani has been working closely with Rahul Gandhi for some time.
Apart from Nilekani, sources said names discussed include that of N Y Hanumanthappa, former chief justice of the Orissa high court from Bellary seat. Sources said Central Election Committee, which met at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, discussed candidature of Lakshmi Hebbalkar from Belgaum seat.
The first list is set to be announced in a week. Sources said a number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and some northeastern states were taken up at the meeting headed by Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi.
With alliances in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand yet to be formalised, the leadership could not take up all seats for consideration in such states. The party plans to finalise most candidates by the end of February.