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Nandan Nilekani cycles to South Bangalore with a new promise

Monday, 13 January 2014 - 7:11am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Bangalore South is one of those few constituencies in the country the bulk of whose electorate is the target group of all the three major political formations. It is reckoned to be a prestigious constituency, and in terms of ethnicities, is as demographically fragmented as any other in the country. And now it’s become the cynosure of all eyes, with talk of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani likely to get  the Congress ticket for Bangalore South for 2014 general elections.

Nilekani on Sunday joined a voting awareness campaign, riding a cycle in Bangalore, his first direct contact  programme with his voters.  He also admitted at a college function that he is ready to  contest on a Congress ticket. He however faces a formidable opponent, Ananth Kumar, who has been elected to Parliament five times in a row on a BJP ticket.

Bangalore South is extremely urban and sophisticated, filled with IT professionals; every fifth voter here hasn’t cast his or her first ballot yet.

BJP’s own prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has a considerable fan following in Bangalore South, comprising eight assembly fragments. The constituency’s young and urbane voter is also the prime target of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). And now, there is Nandan Nilekani, who is a strong brand in the region.

There is reason for observers to believe that Nilekani could manage to pull it off. Ananth Kumar has lost considerable electoral ground in the last two elections of 2004 and 2009 . He won by a mere 4.1 per cent (36,612 votes) in 2009 compared to the whopping 22.2 per cent (1,80,047 votes) margin he secured in 1998. It is a constituency that has elected a Congress candidate only once in the last ten Lok Sabha polls — R Gundu Rao in 1989.

Bangalore South has the best demographic mix that the Congress would want to go fishing for voters for the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The caste factor often tilts scales here. One reason why Ananth Kumar kept winning was because of the Brahmin votebank that stood by him. But against  Nilekani, a Gowda Saraswat Brahmin from the coastal region,  Ananth Kumar’s votebank is likely to be split down the middle.  Also Bangalore’s new demographic might want to pitch for Nilekani.  And it may not be easy for Kumar to outwit a man whose very business is to understand demographic breakups.

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