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Sought Cabinet Post in 2009: Nilekani

That Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Bangalore South was an open secret.

Published: 11th January 2014 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2014 10:29 AM   |  A+A-

That Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Bangalore South was an open secret.

But what is not widely known is that he wanted to be the Human Resource Development Minister in the Manmohan Singh government back in 2009.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responded by offering to make him a Planning Commission member, in the process politely turning down his request to be inducted into the Cabinet.

The technocrat and aspiring politician was not too keen on that position, government sources told Express.

He rejected the offer. But when he made a presentation on unique identity cards and how they could help the government deliver on its welfare promises better, the Centre made him chairman of the UIDAI, which issues Aadhaar cards. The project was launched in Mumbai amid fanfare in 2010.

When Express sought to confirm the  disclosure with Nilekani, he did not respond to an email or a message on his personal Facebook page.

Despite strong resistance from within the Congress, Nilekani managed to get things done because of his proximity to the Gandhi family, the prime minister and then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“The first family of the Congress cleared his name soon after he expressed his desire to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Bangalore South,” said a source who had followed the developments.

In fact, a former Congress chief ministers conveyed this to local leaders a couple of months ago.

He had asked them to get their act together, and not play spoilsport.

“When the family (Sonia and Rahul Gandhi) had decided to field him, what was the need to expect him to go through the process of getting nominated at the local level?” a source said.

New York and B’lore

In the foreword to his book Imagining India - Ideas for the New Century, Nilekani wrote: “This is not the US where Michael Bloomberg could be the CEO of a big company one day and get elected as New York’s Mayor the next.”

But five years on, the 58-year-old former chief of Infosys has decided to follow in the footsteps of the American business magnate.



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