Indian tech billionaire Nilekani plans to run for election

Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:11am EST
 
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By Sruthi Gottipati

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nandan Nilekani, the technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Infosys who was tapped by India's government to run an ambitious identity-recognition program, said he wants to contest elections on a ticket for the ruling Congress party.

Professionals have traditionally kept away from Indian politics, seen as corrupt and dominated by political dynasties that have promoted their own people rather than outsiders.

But that has been changing over the past year, with new political parties launched, the most popular of which is the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party, or the Common Man's Party, which was recently elected to govern Delhi.

"Right now I'm just looking at entering into the fray and making a difference," Nilekani told a news conference.

"Yes, if I'm given a ticket, yes I will contest," he said.

The Congress party is trailing in opinion polls, losing a clutch of state elections last month due to voter anger over inflation and a raft of corruption scandals.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, its likely prime ministerial candidate, is trying to shore up the party's fortunes by bringing in new faces.

Nilekani is a self-made billionaire - Forbes pegs his net worth as $1.3 billion, making him the 50th-richest Indian. He is a graduate from the elite Indian Institute of Technology and made his money in technology and wrote the best-selling book "Imagining India".

In 2010, Nilekani set up the unique identity (UID) project, which by scanning people's irises and fingerprints, hopes to bring India's 1.2 billion population within the reach of government.

(Reporting By Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

 
Nandan M. Nilekani, speaks to the media at the Infosys campus, in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, January 11, 2007. REUTERS/Jagadeesh NV