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Rediff.com  » News » Bangalore South: What works for Nilekani, and what doesn't

Bangalore South: What works for Nilekani, and what doesn't

January 13, 2014 14:12 IST

Nilekani could get a plum position if Congress comes back to power

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore

Nandan Nilekani faces an uphill task in Bangalore South in his bid to counter the massive anti-Congress wave, but that doesn’t mean it will be a cake walk for the BJP’s Anath Kumar either. Vicky Nanjappa discusses both the advantages and disadvantages of Nilekani, and also brings forth BJP’s woes.

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani formally threw his hat into the electoral ring on Friday, and this has warmed up the atmosphere in Bangalore as the Unique Identification Authority of India chairman, fighting on a Congress ticket, is expected to give a strong fight to the Narendra Modi-reliant Bharatiya Janata Party.

The corporate sector in Bangalore is extremely excited about Nilekani’s poll prospects and appears to be backing him fully. Infosys vice chairman S Gopalakrishnan and co-founder Narayana Murthy have said that they would support Nilekani if he stands for elections.

Although Nilekani is yet to make an official announcement, the 58-year-old technocrat is set to contest from the high-profile Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, a seat that is known for its large number of educated voters.

The Karnataka Congress is upbeat about Nilekani’s poll fray and feels that he will rope in the corporates who have traditionally voted for the BJP. Nilekani has tremendous goodwill among the city’s corporate sector, something that the Congress will hope to cash on in to counter the industry’s skepticism.

The Congress in Karnataka has been told that they need to ensure that Nilekani wins at any cost. A senior Congress leader told Rediff.com that Nilekani will get a plum position if he wins and the party comes back to power. “He could even considered for prime minister’s post if Rahul Gandhi backs out,” the leader went on to add.

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Image: The Karnataka Congress is upbeat about Nilekani's poll fray and feels that he will rope in the corporates who have traditionally voted for the BJP
Photographs: Reuters

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What works for Nilekani...

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Nilekani has several advantages and numerous disadvantages. He needs to first battle the anti-Congress vote. Until a few months back it was clear that none other than the BJP stood a chance from Bangalore South. However, the Aam Aadmi Party’s performance in the recently-held Delhi elections has changed that equation a bit and the trend is generally to look for candidates with a different profile. Nilekani falls into that bracket.

He would also stand a chance in case the Congress sends out more vibes stating that he would enjoy an important portfolio in case the party is elected. The Bangalore South voter would want to ensure that their vote does not go waste and their elected representative remains at the helm of affairs at the Centre.

Nilekani’s other major advantage is that he has a clean image and several voters from the I-T sector do trust him. He is also calm and collected and appears to be sincere.

His other advantage is that he is a fresh face and aims to beat the BJP’s five-time Member of Parliament Ananth Kumar.

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Image: People want to vote for candidates with a different profile. Nilekani falls under that bracket
Photographs: Reuters

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... And what doesn't work for him

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However, the big question is, how much can Nilekani really change? What if he wins and the Congress does not come to power at the Centre? Will he be able to make any impact in such a scenario? This could be a stumbling block for him.

Bangalore South has always voted for the BJP. Nilekani will try to woo the same crowd which all these days have been strongly rooting for Narendra Modi.

While Nilekani does provide a positive vibe among the corporate sector in Bangalore, the battle may not be as easy after all. Bangalore South, which has a large chunk of Brahmin voters, will witness a straightforward contest between Nilekani and BJP leader Ananth Kumar, both Brahmins. However, that would not play a major role as voters hardly keep caste considerations in mind while voting in this constituency.

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Image: Nilekani will try to woo the same crowd which all these days have been strongly rooting for Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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How the BJP is impacted in Bangalore South

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While Narendra Modi still has a huge clout in Bangalore South, there are some questions the BJP must ponder over.

There is an AAP wave and this party is looking to also field a strong candidate -- possibly Air Deccan founder Captain Gopinath -- from the same constituency. To some extent the BJP does expect the candidature of Nilekani and also the AAP to create a flutter for them. However, they feel that the end result would be in their favour.

The BJP is hoping that the voter would consider the final outcome of the elections, government-formation, and this could be a guiding factor for them.

Several voters in Bangalore South have often asked that if they vote for a good candidate how good are the chances that his party will form the government at the Centre? There is clearly an anti-Congress wave in the country. There is a wave no doubt in favour of the AAP as well, but can the BJP form the government at the Centre is the question that the South Bangalore voter asks.

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Image: Narendra Modi still has a huge clout in Bangalore South
Photographs: Reuters

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AAP is the third angle in the equation

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The BJP's supporters say that AAP is the worry and not the Congress. However, many voters in Delhi had maintained that it would be Arvind Kejriwal for CM and Modi for PM. Hence the BJP supporters feel that it is advantage BJP in South Bangalore.

While there is a lot at stake in Bangalore South and it has become a prestigious battle now, it is clear that the BJP has not fully woken up as yet. There is too much reliance on Modi and the party hopes that its PM candidature will take them through.

There was talk that Ananth Kumar may be replaced in Bangalore, but now it is almost certain that there will be no change of candidate. Many in this constituency have complained that Ananth Kumar has nothing to crow about regarding development. However, the Ananth Kumar group says that he has done the best he could, but it was the Congress at the Centre for the past 10 years which intentionally did not support him in developmental works.

In the days to come, as the candidates are announced, there is going to be further confusion in the mind of the voter from this constituency. Will they go with a clean candidate like Nandan Nilekani or will they vote Ananth Kumar so that they support Modi and ensure that their vote does not go waste? Or will it be the Aam Admi Party with Captain Gopinath at the end of it?

The scales are tilting in favour of the BJP at the moment, but only time will tell what will happen in May 2014.


Image: Captain Gopinath may change AAP's prospects in Bangalore South


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