All eyes are on the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency in this general election. The reason is that the richest candidate, Nandan Nilekani, is contesting on a Congress ticket from the seat. And Nilekani is taking on Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) five-time MP HN Ananthakumar, who has been winning the seat since 1996.
Nilekani had co-founded Infosys, one of India's IT behemoths. Nilekani is also the main architect behind the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) - or Aadhar scheme - of the Union government. The scheme's aim was to give an identification number to each resident in India and use it for multiple purposes. Nilekani has resigned from the chairman post of UIDAI and is now contesting the election.
Though Nina Nayak, a child rights activist, is being fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from the seat, the contest is going to be mainly between Ananthakumar and Nilekani, media reports indicate. AAP candidate Nayak is contesting on national issues such as fighting corruption and bringing transparency in the government.
For BJP's dark horse Ananthakumar, beating the Congress candidate is not an easy task this time as Nilekani has aroused interest among the educated voters of the middle-class in the constituency.
Even for Nilekani, who started canvassing before he got the ticket from Congress, taking on Ananthakumar is a big challenge as the BJP is severely criticising the Aadhar card programme. BJP is claiming that the entire Aadhar biometric data of Indian population is being stored outside the country, which is not safe for the country.
Bangalore South constituency has sent non-Congress candidates, including Ananthakumar, to the Lok Sabha since 1989.
Perhaps realising the tough competition, Nilekani's wife Rohini Nilekani is toiling along with her husband in canvassing. She has also roped in actor and playwright Girish Karnad to seek votes for Nilekani as the constituency has more number of literate voters. The Nilekanis are holding road-shows, visiting colleges, parks, slums and tenement areas for campaigning.
Nilekani is also boarding BMTC buses to canvass. If that is the case, he must have noticed that the advertisement-greedy corporation is pasting ads on the glasses of some buses, hindering the view of the hapless commuters, while alighting at their destined stops.
Ananthakumar's wife Tejaswini Ananthakumar is also campaigning door-to-door and seeking votes for her husband. While Ananthakukar is advocating that voters must see this election on the national prospective and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wave, Nilekani is emphasising the point that Ananthakumar has won the seat five times, and it is now time for a "change".
Meanwhile, in the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency, V Balakrishnan is contesting from AAP. The JD(S) is fielding Nandini Alva, wife of late Jeevaraj Alva, a close associate of late former Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde. PC Mohan is contesting on a BJP ticket, while Congress has fielded Rizwan Arshad in the constituency.
These four candidates had participated in a citizens programme last Sunday. They debated on haunting problems of Bangalore citizens, such as traffic, clean drinking water and garbage disposal. Mohan said that he would come up with a committee to help the Bangaloreans travel easily on three public modes - BMTC, Namma Metro and the railways.
Balakrishnan said that AAP will make sure the children in the country watch Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV, and they will be proud of our country.
(Edited by Vishnuprasad S Pillai)