T V Mohandas Pai, former Infosys CFO and board member, set up the Bangalore Political Action Committee with Biocon Ltd chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw to encourage people with good credentials to contest elections. Now that UIDAI chairman and former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani has decided to take the political plunge, Pai has welcomed the decision of his good friend but has also been critical of his contribution to the Bangalore South constituency. Pai assesses the evolving political situation in an email interview:
The BPac has been stressing the need for a candidate to have strong credentials for good, consistent work in the constituency he is contesting from.
Strong credentials are needed as expectation and need are high. Credentials bring in acceptance, trust, belief in democracy, ability to influence officials and endure results.
In the Karnataka assembly polls, BPac helped fund candidates who fell in the young and promising category. Does BPac intend to support candidates in the Lok Sabha polls too?
Yes, on the same basis.
What is your view on the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party?
It is a good development as citizens now have an alternative. Also they will put pressure on the system to reform areas such as elections, police, improve governance and response to citizens. The gap between citizens and government is very wide today.
While welcoming the possible entry of Nandan Nilekani in politics as being good for the country, you have been critical on his contributions to the Bangalore South constituency where he aspires to contest the parliament polls from. Why is this?
I am not personally critical and fully support his candidature. I was voicing the opinion of many citizens who spoke to me after his candidature was announced, and who are apprehensive that a candidate not from the grassroots or attached to the constituency will tend to ignore the constituency. We have seen the current MP getting more engaged in party work and work in Delhi and not spending enough time in the constituency. Many people are disappointed. All over the world MPs work hard to meet the aspirations of their constituency, represent their views in the legislature, raise issues which are germane to them, bring in investment in the constituency, etc. This can happen mostly when the candidate has worked locally, developed a connect with voters, understands their needs and issues and becomes their champion. As today there are many central schemes, it is essential the MP works with the state government and the local MLAs to get investment into the constituency for local needs such as transport, water, sewage, jobs.
Does the entry of a possibly good leader in the political fray on a established party’s ticket and his resorting to old electoral practices set the clock back on grooming new leaders?
Well, hopefully, a good leader will remain good and make a better impact.
Do you believe good candidates alone can trump the influence of caste and money in politics?
Yes, because they can transcend caste and money. For instance, Nandan will be able to get above caste and money and hopefully make a better impact.
How difficult in your opinion is it for an ordinary citizen, without strong political and financial backing or an identity-based constituency, to contest polls in an urban area like Bangalore?
Very difficult, unless a phenomenon like AAP happens or the ordinary citizen has done good work in the constituency and gained the trust of voters.