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Nilekani joins Congress, waves job card

Nandan Nilekani is congratulated by party members after he joined the Congress in Bangalore on Sunday. (PTI)

Bangalore, March 9: “It’s official now,” Nandan Nilekani declared after he formally joined the Congress today, a day after he was fielded from Bangalore South.

Wearing the party’s trademark tricolour shawl, Nilekani, 58, enrolled himself at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office here around 11.30am in the presence of state party president G. Parameshwar.

“I’m clean, I’m local and I know every aspect of the city and how it works,” he said when asked why people would vote for him.

BJP’s Ananth Kumar is a five-time MP from the seat.

The Infosys co-founder and Aadhaar architect continued: “I know how to create jobs as I was part of the team that co-founded one of India’s largest IT companies. Secondly, I led a team that built from scratch the national ID which has already given identity to 60 crore people. Then I was chairman of the BATF (Bangalore Agenda Task Force from 1999-2004) that helped me get to know the inner workings of the city.”

“I’m sure, I’ll win,” he said.

While party rules mandate that all ticket-seekers should have served for at least three years, an exception was made for Nilekani who was the party high command’s choice.

The decision seems to have not gone down well with some party members. Karnataka chief minister P.C. Siddaramiah stayed away from the event. Nilekani later met him at his residence to seek his blessings.

The new Congress member said he had no doubts about the party’s support.

Parameshwar seconded him, saying: “He (Nilekani) is now a full-fledged Congress member and the party machinery will work for his success.”

Asked how he hoped to work around the anti-Congress sentiment prevailing nationally, Nilekani said: “This will be fought on local issues and the voters would elect the man best qualified for the job.”

Apart from Nilekani’s image, the Congress would be banking on the waning popularity of his opponent — five-time MP Kumar. Even the BJP is worried that Kumar’s chances are thin this time since he spent more time in Delhi as the party’s general secretary than in his constituency.

But with hardly six weeks left for the April 17 election in the state, first-timer Nilekani has a tough task at hand. “I’ll set out for extensive door-to-door campaign from now,” he said.