Cambridge Analytica Made 50-Page Proposal for 2019 Polls
The Congress party denied using the services of the UK-based firm, Cambridge Analytica, which is embroiled in the data breach scandal.
UK based firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), which was at the center of Facebook data breach, had made a 50-page proposal for Congress for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Rs 2.5 crore proposal, which had a detailed study of the performance of the Congress party and its ruling counterpart Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls, was made to chart a roadmap for 2019 Lok Sabha polls and for state elections in Karnataka, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh scheduled to take place later this year, PTI reported.
The proposal titled “Data-Driven Campaign – the path to the 2019 Lok Sabha” sought access to national voter file, party membership database to understand “where gaps exist” as well as externally identify “3rd party data” to segment and model “voter base”.
“This proposal sets out how CA will give the Indian National Congress an equivalent level of operational and technological support in the bid to win the 2019 Lok Sabha, and the three crucial state elections which will precede,” states the “Introduction” of the proposal which comprises 10 pages.
The proposal allegedly made in August last year focused on four key components–national situational analysis, national data infrastructure project, data driven for 2019 Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, as per TOI report.
The introduction speaks of how Congress lost in 2014, saying: “Indian National Congress suffered significant reputational damage. Repeated allegations of corruption, disunity and structure persists”. The party, as per introduction, was also blamed for India’s growing wealth gap and economic disparity.
The introduction lauds BJP’s digital and social media campaigns for elections, saying: “Final 18 months of 2014 campaign were primarily data-driven and focused on extensive and tactical digital marketing.”
The firm suggested using Facebook data to “influence voter intention”, as per the PTI report.
Congress has denied any financial transaction ever took place between the firm and the party. “Hordes of firm have approached us with proposals on campaigns in the past 15 years and continue to do that. This firm (CA) may have met someone in Congress and submitted a proposal but there was not even a single transaction between this firm and us ever,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera was quoted as saying by TOI. Rebel Congress leader, Shehzad Poonawalla, released a copy of the proposal, according to India Today.
“Given that India had about 350 million smartphone users in 2015 and 195 million Facebook users by 2016, BJP’s approach proved particularly effective. Their resounding victory in 2017 Uttar Pradesh state elections has also largely been due to this factor,” the proposal made by Cambridge Analytica specified. It added that this kind of targeted digital approach will be essential in a country where more than 700 million people are expected to communicate via smartphones by 2020.