Nilekani's unique identity sacrificed at the political altar
17 May 2014
Former Infy co founder Nandan Nilekani's dramatic entry into the government's bureaucratic apparatus was touted as a game-changer, but his plunge into electoral politics to contest the Lok Sabha election from his familiar Bangalore South constituency, ended as he lost out to BJP's national general secretary H N Anantha Kumar by a heavy margin of 2.29 lakh votes.
Nilekani found himself swept away by an unstoppable Modi wave despite putting up a tough fight and the use of technological prowess. Obviously, winning an election and implementing an IT project are different things and need separate sets of capabilities. Also, Anantha Kumar was not a political light weight for Nilekani to have an easy walkover.
While the defeat of a political rookie by a five-term veteran is understandable, the huge margin of loss is enough to deter Nilekani from testing political waters again. Also, the technocrat did not quite realise that a sinking boat was using his clean image and technological capabilities to remain afloat.
Nilekani's campaign, which was focused on local issues and projected the Infosys co-founder as the city's voice in Delhi, did not convince the electorate.
Nilekani polled 4,03,886 votes against Ananth Kumar's 6,32,906, which made the political veteran a sixth time winner from the constituency.
Nilekani's former Infosys colleague, V Balakrishnan, who contested on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket polled just 39,869 votes.
''This was a hard-fought campaign,'' Nilekani said after conceding defeat. ''We've been part of a historic democratic exercise. We saw the highest voter turnout in world history, with 55 crore people voting across the country. I am humbled to have been part of this extraordinary process. I respect the choice that the voters have made.''
The Bangalore South constituency, which has benefited from the IT boom, failed to reward the man who was part of the team that brought about the IT boom as Nilekani happened to be on the wrong platform.
It was not a fight between Nandan Nilekani and H N Anantha Kumar, but part of a fight between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, that felled the veteran Infosian.