Making his wealth public a day before stepping into the fray, Infosys co-founder and Congress candidate from Bangalore South, Nandan Nilekani has declared that he and his wife Rohini Nilekani have assets worth Rs 7,700 crore.
"I started out with 200 rupees in my pocket, when I graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology; ...we founded Infosys with Rs 10,000," Nilekani's media team, quoting him, said. "Today, because of the success of a company built from scratch, Nandan and Rohini have assets of Rs 7,700 crore," a release issued by the media team said.
His formidable opponent and five-time Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South, Ananth Kumar of the Bharatiya Janata Party has declared himself poorer than his wife Tejaswani. In an affidavit filed on Wednesday, Kumar has declared his total assets stands at Rs 51.12 lakh, while Tejaswani owns assets worth of Rs 3.86 crore. Total assets owned by the family are at Rs 4.4 crore.
Chief architect of United Progressive Alliance’s flagship "Aadhar" scheme, Nilekani took the political plunge on March 9, when he joined the Congress, a day after the party named him as its candidate from Bangalore South.
Bangalore South has been a hostile terrain for the Congress which had been tasting defeat since the late 1970s, barring in 1989 when former Chief Minister late R Gundu Rao had won.
Nilekani said, "Most of our wealth, almost 80 per cent remains in Infosys shares; ...This wealth was created while Infosys brought lakhs of jobs to Bengaluru. The company also shared a lot of wealth with our employees through ESOPs (employee stock ownership plan)." He said he still owns 1.45 per cent, and Rohini 1.3 per cent of Infosys.
Saying he is proud of the fact that his wealth is completely transparent, he said, "I haven't made any of my money illegally, or hid it in investments outside the country."
"Nothing is hidden in someone else's bank account. It is all completely transparent, and tax-paid," he added. Since 1999, both are said to have donated almost Rs 400 crore of their wealth to various causes and charities.
"I have worked in the social sector for more than 15 years now...and when I came into some money through the sale of Infosys shares, I was able to spend more on my philanthropy," Rohini Nilekani said.
Nilekani and Rohini have prioritised their philanthropy into areas such as water, governance and education.