Nilekani hits FB as Congress clears 'clean' candidates for Karnataka

The unquestionably tech-savvy Nandan Nilekani, formerly co-chairman of software firm Infosys and now chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDIA), has not unexpectedly launched his campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in expected style, with an appealing Facebook message.

Nandan NilekaniNilekani, who will contest for the South Bangalore seat on a Congress ticket, has put on his FB page the stately Vidhana Soudha (assembly house), the Lalbagh glass house and other city landmarks peppered with bright flowering trees and greenery in a sketch aimed at reflecting the romantic side of an otherwise busily-growing state capital. The caption reads "Ideas for Bengaluru".

The Congress Election Committee (CEC), headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, has re-nominated all the nine sitting MPs from Karnataka, besides agreeing that Nilekani should stand for the upmarket Bangalore South.

Nilekani, as chairman of the UIDIA, already has cabinet rank in the UPA government; and he made it clear a couple of weeks back that he would like to stand for elections on the Congress ticket.

Perhaps alerted by the widespread anger against corruption that saw Arvind Kejriwal briefly become the chief minister of Delhi, the Congress seems to have made an effort to selected squeaky-clean candidates for Karnataka at least.

Besides Bangalore South, the CEC cleared candidates for two constituencies which the Congress is looking to wrest from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Laxmi Hebbalkar, who has been given the ticket to contest from Belgaum, heads the Belgaum Rural Congress unit. A post-graduate in political science, Hebbalkar, 38, had lost the 2013 assembly election from Belgaum Rural.

The party is fielding former judge N Y Hanumanthappa from Bellary. He had lost from the same constituency in 2009. The Congress hopes to regain Bellary, which was its bastion before it was captured by the notorious Reddy brothers, deeply enmeshed in allegations of illegal iron ore mining.

In Bangalore South, Nilekani takes on BJP leader H N Ananth Kumar.

Another candidate who has got the ticket from Karnataka is petroleum minister Veerappa Moily. The CEC is expected to meet again by 3 March to clear the remaining names.