Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday led the BJP’s charge by tearing into the Congress party over its alleged links with the controversial data collecting agency Cambridge Analytica.
We had reported a few days back that Facebook had suspended Cambridge Analytica over it obtaining information of Facebook users without their approval. This issue has since then snowballed into a big controversy, which includes people advocating the social networking website’s boycott.
The Congress party too has been dragged into this controversy owing to the party allegedly being involved in talks with the firm to seek its help in winning elections, ahead of the Gujarat polls last year. The ambiguity over the party’s relations with Cambridge Analytica led to the speculation of the party actively seeking its controversial services.
The BJP has now openly made this a political issue with its senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad not holding back in his attack.
Terming Cambridge Analytica as Congress’ “Bhramhastra”, Prasad in his conference questioned whether the Congress was trying to employ illegal schemes like data manipulation and data theft while raising the point about alleged links between the party and the data agency. Taking it further he also questioned the magnitude of data of Indians which has been shared with the agency.
Other allegations raised by Prasad pertained to the agency seeing an alleged tool in corruption and sex workers to achieve its goals.
While bringing in the angle of alleged electoral influencing by the firm during the Brexit polls and US elections, Prasad decided to make his attack about, “free and fair elections in India and democratic values of the country”.
He thus went on to assert that the misuse of Social Media including Facebook would neither be permitted nor tolerated. This line might raise speculations whether the Modi government is planning on launching an official investigation into possible malpractices by Cambridge Analytica in this country.
Interestingly while the press conference was playing out, the head of Congress’ social media team decided to come out and outright deny allegations of the party’s involvement with the agency:
News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false.
— Divya Spandana/Ramya (@divyaspandana) March 21, 2018
Randeep Surjwala said, “Indian National Congress (INC) or the Congress president (Rahul Gandhi) has never used or never hired the services of a company called Cambridge Analytica. It is a fake agenda and white lie being dished out by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.”
Congress rebel leader Shehzad Poonawalla, in turn, accused Surjewala of lying and tweeted an email copy where Ovleno, associated with Cambridge Analytica, through one Amrish Tyagi had approached him for working with Congress and Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Surjewala lying as usual- Indian wing Ovleno associated with Cambridge Analytica – through Amrish Tyagi – approached me for work with Congress & Rahul Gandhi – never with BJP- here is his email-I then learnt he was able to engage with INC – Also who did CEO of CA meet in India pic.twitter.com/E9kdb9nWl0
— Shehzad Jai Hind (@Shehzad_Ind) March 21, 2018
This raises the question as to why did the Congress party wait for so many days before denying the links when it could have simply killed the matter by issuing this “clarification” the day Cambridge Analytica ran into fresh trouble.