Catch-22 for Congress
Aadhar and Nilekani
If one knows those who matter in New Delhi, nothing can stop him /her in any State Capital. That has been the attitude of the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, Nandan Nilekani.
Nilekani has already begun his election campaign in the Bangalore South Lok Sabha Constituency as a Congress candidate even before the Party has made a formal announcement. He is so sure about his candidature that he has come to think the Congress has no better candidate than him. He has already appointed a media team to carry on his campaign and has been visiting various pockets in the Constituency. He is going about with the campaign with supreme self-confidence and is riding roughshod over the Karnataka Pradesh and Bangalore City District Congress leaders. Some of them are sulking behind the back of the IT industry leader.
As he is the choice of the Congress High Command, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and also perhaps the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, no State or local leader has spoken out against him in public.
No doubt no one can question Nilekani’s credentials to contest an election. He is a native of Bangalore, has the education to become an MP and also experience in industry. His assets have been estimated at Rs 8,000 crores. But his drawback is that he is being imposed from above and has no worthwhile service to the State Capital to boast of. The only connection with Bangalore in particular and urban affairs in general is that Nilekani was a member of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) which had been set up when SM Krishna was the Chief Minister. After Krishna’s exit the BATF was disbanded. It is today remembered for having as members some self-proclaimed experts on urban affairs including a woman doctor from far away Kolkata and some others known for their insolence. The odd man out in the Force was the Gandhian educationist, the Late Dr H Narasimhaiah. With his penchant for identifying himself with the IT industry, SM Krishna gave much weightage to the views of Nilekani and others of his thinking.
The Congress is going to field Nandan Nilekani for the Bangalore South Constituency based on the concentration of IT industries in the South and a middle class population which has benefited from them. No doubt the average educated Bangalorean is not the one to listen to arguments like the one that the Indian IT units are no more than sweat shops.
Nilekani is putting across through the internet his “Ideas for Bangalore”. His ideas have been incorporated in his book “Imaging India: Ideas for the New Century”. He is a votary of greater urbanisation and wants people to be translocated from the villages to our cities. The current problem in Bangalore is that of non-clearance of garbage on the part of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. Though Bangalore continues to be called a garden city and pensioners’ paradise in tourism blurbs, such descriptions are now in the past tense. The City is now better known as a garbage city.
Nilekani’s rival is going to be the veteran BJP leader, HN Ananth Kumar who has won five times since 1996 and knows the Constituency too well. Bangalore South is also considered most unsafe for the Congress ever since 1977. After 1977, the Congress has won the seat only once and lost nine times. Though Bangalore is often called a cosmopolitan city, the caste factor is very much relevant here. Bangalore is a stronghold of the Vokkaligas and the JD(S) is most likely to field a candidate from that caste, as both Nilekani and Ananth Kumar are Brahmins . No doubt there is also the strong possibility of the wily JD (S) supremo H D Deve Gowda fielding a weak candidate to help Nilekani . He might do so in the name of strengthening secularism, though he is known for brazenly practising casteism and dividing the Hindus.
The citizens, whom he is meeting, must have impressed upon Nilekani the nature of their problems which negative his elitist “gated community ideology”. He must also have noted that there are many opposed to his Aadhar Card. There are not many takers for Nilekani’s claims that the Aadhar Card is the panacea for many of the country’s ills. He hardly mentions that it was originally meant to deal with the problem of influx of illegal immigrants especially Muslims from Bangladesh into West Bengal, Assam and other eastern States.
Nilekani is stated to be taking lessons in Kannada. Though his mother tongue is Konkani, he is not fluent in Kannada. The better chamber for the likes of Nandan Nilekani is the Rajya Sabha and certainly not the House of the People. If elected he is going to join the tribe of the Congress high flyers like P Chidambaram, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Jairam Ramesh, Kapil Sibal. No doubt Nilekani cannot be faulted as even the Congress Party’s heir apparent Rahul Gandhi knows only India not Bharat.
The idea of Aadhar is adopted from the United States Social security Number. Main idea behind the Aadhar is of providing unique identity number to every citizen. The Unique Identification (UID) number project is the brainchild of Nandan Nilekani. An IIT-ian who left Infosys to join the government as the head of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), stressed that by giving every Indian, a unique 12-digit number under the Aadhaar project could change their lives to present unique identity to the nation. But, now it seems like he was involved into this project to grab the opportunity and proceed towards his ambition to attain Lok Sabha seat.
The Government expends nearly Rs 1,50,000 crore on the Scheme. It won’t be a surprise, if a scam turns up out of this too. Beside this, there’s no clue where all that bio-metric data that the Government collecting may land up. Much of the data is being collected by an American company which is a matter of concern for the country. In the present day and age, every country is facing the problems of identity frauds, usage of fake identities for money laundering, terrorism and many more.
Now this all looks useless and baseless because till date Government is unable to decide that is Aadhar mandatory or not? Personal details of people collected for the Aadhaar scheme can not only be exploited commercially but also can be misused by Government agencies. The Supreme Court directed the Centre on March 4 to explain if it had obtained presidential assent before launching Aadhaar but wondered if it could rule on the validity of the scheme so long as it was voluntary. The court raised the question as it took up a PIL filed by a former Karnataka High Court judge, Justice Puttaswamy, challenging the legal sanctity of the schemes. Basics like food and water matters more to the common man than privacy. On September 23, 2013, the Apex Court had an interim order directed that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory for accessing welfare schemes. Supreme Court asked the petitioner to identify the fundamental rights breached by Aadhaar.
—Nishant Kr Azad
Jayalalithaa calls for Congress free India
Tamil Nadu Chief Mininster J Jayalalithaa accused Congress-led UPA Government to plunder the nation in the last ten years and appealed to the janata to throw it out in the coming Lok Sabha election. She also blamed the “wrong economic policies” of the UPA for price rise and other ills faced by the people, also accusing it for neglecting the defence sector.
The coming election is not just one to bring about a change in regime, but on that would protect India from Foreign aggression, said Jayalalithaa, alleging the Congress ignored the armed forces. She also targeted the favourite rival DMK.
“Last time in the Assembly elections I had appealed to you all to throw out the family rule (DMK) and you obliged me. Now I am here to ask you to remove anti-people Congress Government and am confident you will do it. It is our duty to remove the anti-people and corrupt Congress Government,” she said.
Jayalalithaa dictate that the poll campaign should target only the Congress and not Modi and BJP.