A day after he told a British parliamentary panel that UK data firm Cambridge Analytica counted the Congress party as its client in India, Christopher Wylie, a former employee turned whistleblower, Wednesday released documents that showed that CA’s parent company, SCL Group had worked for the JD (U) in the 2010 Bihar elections.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Wylie released photographs of documents that showed the extent of the firm’s work and the location of its offices in India. “SCL India was asked to provide electoral research and strategy for the 2010 state elections for the JD(U). SCL undertook a behavioural research programme targeting over 75 per cent of households to assist the client in not only identifying the correct battlegrounds, but also the right audiences, messages and most importantly, the right castes to target,” said one document.
Also among the documents Wylie released is the address of the head office for CA’s parent company SCL Group in India: “155, Niti Khand 1, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad”. The same address was also listed as the official address of Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) on its website before it was taken down last week.
OBI, SCL’s partner in India is owned by Amrish Tyagi, the son of senior Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi. OBI counted BJP, Congress and JD(U) among its clients on its website.
Amrish is also one of the four directors of another Ghaziabad-based company named Strategic Communication Laboratories Private Limited, which has Alexander Nix as its director. Nix was Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica whose executives were secretly recorded by undercover journalists of Channel 4 News, bragging about their election-influencing methods, including bribery and honey traps, against their client’s opponents. India was one of the countries that had been named.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests from Indian journalists, so here are some of SCL’s past projects in India. To the most frequently asked question – yes SCL/CA works in India and has offices there. This is what modern colonialism looks like. pic.twitter.com/v8tOmcmy3z
— Christopher Wylie (@chrisinsilico) March 28, 2018
In his testimony to the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, Wylie had said that CA had worked “extensively” in India, and had named Congress as one of the firm’s clients. “I believe their client was Congress,” he said. He said that he didn’t think the firm had not done any national work but had been active in states. “But they do have offices there, they do have staff there.” He had mentioned that he had some documents on the work.
According to the documents Wylie shared Wednesday, SCL India has “a database of over 600 districts and seven lakh villages, which is constantly being updated”. They also show that SCL India’s “micro-level information includes household level demographics, specifically focusing on caste data, linked to online mapping applications.” It said the company helped clients “identify and target key groups within the population to effectively influence their behaviour to realise a desired outcome”.
The documents mentioned that SCL had worked in 2012, 2011 and 2007 in Uttar Pradesh. It also worked during the national general elections in 2009, it said. Other states named in the documents are Bihar in 2010, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in 2003 and Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand in 2007. Among other projects, it also listed “psephological studies and behavioural polling in Delhi and Chhattisgarh”.
The documents also stated that the company had worked on caste research and analysis. It said the caste research includes gathering information on the demographics of the population of each area, which is used to understand how caste influence votes and how messaging can be shaped. It also pointed to case studies of research on “voting behaviour by caste and by booth in Kairana and Kanth”.
OBI had mentioned caste research on its website as well. Under case studies, it had said, “CA was contracted to undertake an in-depth electorate analysis for the Bihar Assembly Election in 2010. The core challenge was to identify the floating/swing voters for each of the parties and to measure their levels of electoral apathy, a result of the poor and unchanging condition of the state after 15 years of incumbent rule.”
“In addition to the research phase, CA was tasked to organise the party base at the village level by creating a communication hierarchy to increase supporter motivation. Our client achieved a landslide victory, with over 90% of total seats targeted by CA being won,” the website said before it was taken down.
Amrish Tyagi had told The Indian Express on March 20 that for BJP, OBI had managed booth profiling for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections in 2012. For the same elections, he said his organisation had done an opinion poll for a news channel. For Congress, OBI had done ground surveys for the Youth Congress elections in Jharkhand in 2011 and 2012. And for his father’s party, JD(U) Tyagi said he had done some ground research in 2010.