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Nilekani's 'Imagining Bangalore' is a well-thought-out strategy

By Shubham

nandan nilekani
The Congress is not the favour of this poll season. The party, which has led a ruling coalition at the Centre for a decade now, is carrying a heavy baggage of anti-incumbency sentiment. All eyes are glued to the NDA at the moment as it is making a lot of noise and news.

But there is one candidate in the Congress who has been catching the media attention for positive reasons and he is IT czar Nandan Nilekani. The man, who is contesting from South Bangalore against five-time MP Ananth Kumar, is the only public figure who has taken a tougher route by joining the Congress. Nagma is another public figure to have joined the same party but she is well past her prime.

Nilekani's honest take on politics

By joining the Congress, Nilekani has revealed an honest personal take on politics. The Manmohan Singh government had assigned him an arduous task of creating a unique identification for each Indian. It was a massive assignment and Nilekani did a commendable job on this. A ticket to enter politics could be a return gift but what is appreciable in Nilekani's case is that he did not deviate to toe Narendra Modi's party given its higher popularity across the nation when it came to joining politics. Nilekani did not make his formal entry into politics a precedent of opportunism, unlike many others at the moment.

When others are going national, Nilekani has gone local

Nilekani is also playing according to a plan, even though he is a newcomer in politics. The man, who authored a bestseller named Imagining India (2008), is mostly focusing on improving civic standards in Bangalore, his urban centre for he is keen to create a space for his own in politics. Nilekani knows that with a strong Narendra Modi blowing across the country and his party buried under a tainted image, it is futile to eye Delhi to make a deep mark. On the contrary, it is better to focus on the scopes of improvement in his own constituency and cash in on the anti-incumbency against Ananth Kumar, who is accused of ignoring his constituency and staying in Delhi more.

Nilekani's observation in his book Imagining India

In Imagining India, Nilekani writes: "A few Indian states -- such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu -- are economically fairly advanced, and citizens do not have to resort to caste-based bergaining for public services. Elections here may still be fought along caste lines, but the primary aspirations of the people are more broad-based -- such as in their demands for better infrastructure and more effective schools. This is becoming especially evident with the rise of swing voters, who vote more on material development issues than along caste lines..." (p 20)

While most are going national, Nilekani has gone local to create his space

The note conveys that Nilekani is no novice in political lessons.

Nilekani is a long-term aspirant, not chasing instant fame

Nilekani certainly has a long-term aspiration in politics. He is not the one who is running after instant power. He perhaps wants to take the steps to reach the top in the public life, may be after 5-10 years. We need more such thoughtful leaders in our democracy who puts responsibility over their selfish interests. Nilekani has taken the tougher route but he won't lose for that. Even if he fails to beat Ananth Kumar on May 16, his credentials will live on.

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