Cong may have to waive rules for Nilekani

Last Updated 25 December 2013, 22:40 IST

Nandan Nilek­ani, a high-profile  aspirant for a Cong­ress ticket from Karnataka, does not meet any of the criteria prescribed by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi for selecting candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

On Tuesday, Nilekani had conveyed to Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara his desire to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as a party candidate,  preferably from Bangalore South, now represented by H N Ananth Kumar of the BJP. As UIDAI chairman, Nilekani enjoys the rank of a cabinet minister. It is a non-official post.

As of now, Nilekani is not even a primary member of the Congress, let alone be associated with the party for three years. Rahul Gandhi has often stated that a leader should grow from the block and state level in the party. In addition, he should have been a member for at least three years before being considered for contest in polls. However, the party has often waived its rules and by-laws to give tickets to high-profile individuals.

The party constitution, too, does not specify the three-year membership norm, though from time to time the party has evolved eligibility guidelines for  ticket seekers. A senior Congress leader said that conventions and rules are often violated in case the party high command decides to accommodate someone of their choice. This may happen in the case of Nilekani too if the leadership feels that he would be the right choice for the constituency.

The presence of a large number of IT firms in Bangalore South may help Nilekani attract votes, it is believed. Winnability would take precedence over rules, sources said.

However, there are not many state leaders who are in favour of fielding the former Infosys boss. They say that the IT factor alone would not help a candidate to win because the constituency has been a BJP bastion for many years. It is said that Nilekani’s ‘elite’ connection in the Congress may only get him the support of the high command and nothing more.

 According to one Congress MLA, Nilekani does not have ‘grassroots contact’ required to get elected; he is also ‘flying’ on his UIDAI laurels alone. Also, the local leaders are in favour of fielding industrialist U B Venkatesh, who failed to get ticket to contest the assembly polls from Jayanagar. Instead of a newcomer, they prefer a person who has been working for the party from many years, as a candidate.

The state party unit is scheduled to meet on Thursday and again on December 28 to elicit opinions of Bangalore leaders regarding the eligibility of candidates for three seats in Bangalore city.

(Published 25 December 2013, 22:35 IST)

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