According to the Open Magazine, a new document has surfaced which suggests that the Indian National Congress might have been in discussions with the disgraced Cambridge Analytica to organize its campaign in the upcoming Assembly election polls in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, apart from the 2019 General Election itself. Open Magazine claims that it is in possession of a detailed proposal by the firm that outlines its plan to turn around the fortunes of the party that appears to be in decline.
The papers state that the firm’s help will be critical ‘when the INC faces its first existential challenge at the 2019 Lok Sabha and competes with the incumbent BJP’. The firm plans to use ‘a combination of data analytics, behavioural science and targeted communications’ to help the Congress party. Whistle-blower Chris Wylie in a disposition to the UK House of Commons also claimed that the Congress party was one of the clients of the firm. He said in response to an MP’s question, I believe their [Cambridge Analytica’s] client was Congress. I know that they have done all kinds of projects both regional… I don’t remember a national project, but regional… I mean India is big. One state can be as big as Britain. But they do have offices there and they do have staff there. I believe I have some documentation in India which I can also provide.
Cambridge Analytica and its parent’s firms are reported to have been involved in over 200 elections in multiple countries across the world. Recently, Quartz reported that Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm significantly influenced South Asian politics. The SCL group claims that it came to Indonesia at the behest of “pro-democratic groups” to “assist with a national campaign of political reform and democratization.” During the assignment, the firm organized massive rallies at universities to help students “let off steam”. It sponsored “organized avenues of protests” to draw students away from violent protests. The SCL documents state, “Large rallies were organised at each university. This was achieved by establishing a rally committee and financing activities and coverage across the country.” They add, “The events were so large that there was a general feeling amongst students that their voice really had been heard.” In Thailand, its mandate was supposed to ascertain the pattern of vote-buying behaviour in constituencies and identify how open a particular constituency was to accept a change in their behaviour.
It has been reported that Cambridge Analytica was interfering in elections in Nigeria and Kenya as well. But the verdict appears to be that they were not very successful with their strategy. However, the failure in one particular scene should not be translated to mean that they weren’t able to elections elsewhere. The firm supposedly managed the successful election campaign of President Donald Trump which saw him score the most improbable election victory of the century thus far.
The Congress has been in troubled waters since the scandal broke out. After alleging the BJP of a data leak, the official apps of the Indian National Congress and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah disappeared from the Play Store. It became apparent that a section of the media is trying to protect the Congress party but with the emergence of an image that showed the Congress party symbol adorning Cambridge Analytica’s office and now the document assessed by Open Magazine, Congress’ involvement with the disgraced firm is becoming harder to deny every day.