The Congress party released its 2019 Lok Sabha Election Manifesto with much fanfare on Tuesday, the 2nd of April 2019. The manifesto had several rather dangerous aspects to it. Apart from accusing the Indian Army of sexual violence and torture in Kashmir, the Congress promised to dilute AFSPA, curtail the power of the Media and make the NSA accountable to all politicians, thereby running the risk of making public sensitive national security concerns.
Heading the Manifesto committee was senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. Interestingly, according to a report in the Times of India, the following were the “policy wonks” who helped formulate the Congress manifesto.
An interesting name that is included in the list, is that of Mr Mahesh Vyas, CEO of CMIE. Multiple sources have reiterated that around 15 million jobs were created in India by the Modi government per year. However, CMIE decided to present shoddy data to claim that unemployment was at its highest.
Interestingly, the CEO is CMIE, it has now been revealed, was helping Congress build their manifesto.
CMIE has a long and interesting history and is closely linked with Congress minister P Chidambaram who was the head of the Manifesto committee in which Mahesh Vyas was also involved.
CMIE, that brings out periodic Job Survey, is wholly owned by Mr Ajay Shah (and his family), the same person who also happens to be one of the main accused in a mega scam commonly known as ‘NSE Co-location’ scam.
Mr Shah has been accused of accessing data from NSE on a preferential basis in connivance with the authorities and sharing this data with certain stockbrokers for use in High-Frequency Trading. The scam is being investigated by SEBI, CBI as well as by Income Tax authorities.
The current MD of CMIE is Mr Mahesh Vyas, who happens to be the brother-in-law of Mr Ajay Shah. The timing of the commencement of this Job Survey raises suspicion on the motivation as well as the credibility of the data. The co-location scam came to public light in late 2015, and the first Job Survey was out in April 2016.
Several of the news articles (as well as Wikipedia entry on NSE Co-location scam at the time of writing this article) mentions that Mr Ajay Shah is a very close confidante of Mr P. Chidambaram. Given this information and the ownership pattern of CMIE, any ‘Job Survey’ from CMIE should be taken with a pinch (or a tonne) of salt, as one would take it from a Congress IT cell.
The entire story of the close association between CMIE and P Chidambaram and also the improprieties attached its key players can be read here.
The information at hand begs a few important questions:
1. Since the owners of CMIE are accused of impropriety, was it appropriate to get Mahesh Vyas involved in the Manifesto committee?
2. That Mahesh Vyas and CMIE are connected to P Chidambaram is a known fact. Vyas’ involvement in the Manifesto committee has only reinforced it. Was the CMIE data that was milked by the Congress party reliable and uninfluenced by this association?