Written by Umang Saini
BillionaireThe time to chose is here. I am living in South Bengaluru for 7 years now from 2005, and it's the first General Elections where I will vote in Bengaluru. I had failed to summon up my enthusiasm to go out and vote in 2009. Ananth Kumar had retained South Bengaluru in 2009 (fifth straight win), and UPA came back to power.
It looks like this time the opposite may happen. I have followed Nandan Nilekani's career in Infosys and later in public life, and have no doubts on his impeccable credentials and talent. It's time for NDA to come to power, however there's good probability of Congress candidate Nilekani winning from South Bangalore.
He is by far the 'only' billionaire contesting general elections in 2014.He is 50th on the list of 65 Indian billionaires with Forbes estimated wealth of $1.3bn (INR 7900cr). The man clearly doesn't need to prove anything, or for that matter contest elections. However, he is contesting and spending his own money on the campaign, which I estimate will be near Rs. 70 lacs, the upper limit allowed by Election commission of India.
- Independent - It's an open secret that independent candidates don't win elections. Less than 5 won in 2009, and that number is expected to be below 10 this time as well.
- Congress - He has joined an incumbent party which has been in power in central government for 50+ years after independence, and hasn't been able to change status-quo in India (precisely because it represents the status-quo). He may have joined the Anarchy Aadmi Party (AAP), however that would've meant betraying his connections with UPA-II government. He kept his loyalty, however can never justify the monstrosity of a failure which UPA-II government has been.
- Adhaar - Central government has budgeted Rs. 10,000cr+ for distributing these ID's however it's immediate benefit / impact hasn't been much to write about. Some estimates suggest that money spent is as high at 37 to 50,000 cr. We definitely need more transparency on how much money has been spent, and is in budget for issuing further ID's. As it's a biometric ID, it help reduce KYC costs which alone should recover it's issuing costs. My suggestion for Adhaar is to make allow citizens to pay and get Adhaar, just like a Passport is issued. We may get a better user experience, as I didn't have a particularly good experience in getting my ID.
Ashok Soota, the veteran IT-professional, recently endorsed Nandan openly, and despite above mentioned criticism's, he is in-fact a credible candidate who is capable to bring sustainable development to South Bangalore. Excerpts from Ashok's email, as published by Indian Express article are below
‘Something Wonderful’“This mail is to share with you my excitement that something wonderful is happening in Bangalore South. We have, in Nandan Nilekani, a superb candidate for effecting change and creating a better future,”“We have a unique opportunity to create politicians, the way we utilise the greatest minds to lead the country. It is because I feel so passionately about this that I am asking you to help. Volunteer with us. This is a historic time and we need real change. We all know Nandan is the man, but we need your spirit, your passion, and your commitment to help him win. And we have less than 30 days till election day, April 17th.
“For those of you in Bangalore South, I hope you will add your vote to mine for ensuring Nandan’s success," -- Ashok Soota's email
May the best candidate win.
Disclosure - I attended 9th March Together with Nandan walkathon and shook hands with the man. I also took one T-shirt from the organizers.