Nilekani has a unique ID: Cong member No 12178

Pays Rs 100 to enrol for party's primary membership; gets ready to contest from B'lore South constituency

Nilekani has a unique ID: Cong member No 12178

Nandan Nilekani, who headed one of the world’s largest projects to give identity to the people, has got himself a unique identity — of a Congressman. The Congress office on Sunday allotted him an enrolment number: 12178. He also paid Rs 100 towards registration.

Nilekani, the billionaire entrepreneur who co-founded the Infosys Technologies, walked into the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office for the first time, a day after the party declared him its candidate for Bangalore South LS constituency. He reached there three minutes ahead of the scheduled time of 11.30 am.

The moment he stepped out of his Hyundai car, firecrackers were burst and life-size garlands stuffed into his neck. Folk artistes welcomed him by dancing to the loud beats of the drums. He was made to wear a Mysore peta and a silk shawl. Congress workers jostled for space to get a glimpse of him. Even news photographers struggled for space in the crowded auditorium.

KPCC president G Parameshwara, Union minister K Rahman Khan, ministers from Bangalore Ramalinga Reddy and Dinesh Gundu Rao, MLAs R V Devaraj and A Krishnappa et al were on the dais to welcome 58-year-old Nilekani become a primary member of the Congress party by filling up a form and holding the party flag. After leaving Infosys, Nilekani had joined the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as chairperson but took home a token salary of Re 1.

When senior Congress leaders heaped praises on him for building Infosys, becoming a tech icon and opting to do public service through the Congress, Nilekani just smiled. Parameshwara and others wished him to step into the office next time as an MP. Nilekani said he had the ability to work with the party’s leaders and workers.

When Nilekani was given the mic to address the gathering, he spoke in Kannada initially only to switch to English later. Answering the often-asked question why the electorate should prefer him to the sitting MP, H N Ananth Kumar of the BJP, he said, “There is a time for everyone to go and arrive. This happens even in private companies. So the time for a change has come now in the constituency.”  When asked how can he, who professes clean politics, defend the scam-ridden UPA government, Nilekani asserted that corruption was  not the monopoly of one party.

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