Bangalore: Multi-billionaire Infosys co-founder and Congress candidate Nandan Nilekani, with declared assets of `78bn, yesterday filed his nomination papers for the high-profile Bangalore South seat. Polling for the Lok Sabha elections will be held across Karnataka on April 17.
Accompanied by wife Rohini and the ruling party’s cabinet ministers, leaders and cadres, Nilekani submitted the papers to the returning officer in the civic office at upscale Jayanagar in the southern suburb. About 5,000 people gathered at the office and cheered him with slogans like “Vote for Nandan” and “Vote for Congress”.
“This is an important day for the people of Bangalore, not just for me because I believe this city deserves leaders who are passionate about building a better city for each one of us,” a beaming Nilekani told the gathering.
Reiterating that the city deserved leaders who were not hungry for power, Nilekani said they should be able to do something good. “We need leaders who will create opportunities for others,” he asserted. State transport minister Ramalinga Reddy, also the city’s in-charge minister, proposed Nilekani’s name.
“We are open about the wealth we have generated because it’s hard earned and we are transparent about every rupee. I believe that by doing this, we will encourage others to come forward about their wealth. It is important to bring honesty into politics,” Rohini said on the occasion.
Nilekani declared in the nomination that he and Rohini had assets worth a whopping `78bn.
About 80 percent of the couple’s wealth was in the form of Infosys’ shares. Nilekani said he still owned 1.45 percent (8.35 million shares) of the company’s equity while Rohini had 1.3 percent (7.5 million shares).
The IT bellwether’s blue chip share of `5 on par value ended at `3,305 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
“This wealth was created while Infosys brought lakhs of jobs to Bangalore. The company also shared a lot of wealth with its employees through stock options,” Nilekani recalled. Observing that the wealth the global software major brought had given him freedom to do what he wanted to, the former Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman said he would now like to give millions of people the opportunities he had.
“The Infosys story has inspired a generation of young Indians to start something on their own, to take risks that created wealth for the country, as well as millions of new jobs,” Nilekani asserted.
Since 1999, Nilekani and Rohini have donated about `4bn to various causes and charities.
“I am proud that my wealth is transparent. I have not made any money illegally, or hid it in investments outside the country. Nothing is hidden in someone else’s bank account and its all tax-paid,” the 58-year-old techno geek said. “Each of us should do what we can, with what we have, to make a difference and get us a little closer to what we envision,” Nilekani added. Nilekani’s rival, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) five-time winner Ananth Kumar filed his papers on March 19.