At the centre of an international storm for manipulating elections, Cambridge Analytica (CA), on its website, mentions it has worked in India in the past. The firm’s services were used in the Bihar Assembly Elections in 2010 and the India partner of CA’s parent company allegedly worked with three political parties – BJP, Congress and JD(U).
Under case studies, the website states, “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,” states the website.
Though Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted news reports that Cambridge Analytica may have been hired by the Congress last year, the international data analytics firm has no mention of the Congress party.
India partner of Cambridge Analytica’s parent firm, Strategic Communications Laboratories does mention three political parties it has worked for in the past. Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), owned by Amrish Tyagi, son of senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, lists BJP, Congress and JD(U) as its clients on its website http://www.ovleno.in, which Wednesday evening was taken down.
Amrish and suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix are directors in a Ghaziabad-based company named Strategic Communications Laboratories Private Limited. While he could not be reached for comment Wednesday, Amrish had spoken to The Indian Express on Tuesday.
He had said that questions regarding Channel 4 News’ investigations should be directed to Cambridge Analytica and did not comment on news reports, saying he has been on the move and has not had a chance to see the news. Amrish clarified that his organisation has never been involved in any work dubious work.
Another Director of OBI, Himanshu Sharma on his LinkedIn profile had mentioned that OBI had “managed 4 election campaigns Successfully for the Ruling Party BJP.” His profile also said that to achieve the target of BJP’s Mission 272+, before the 2014 general elections, it handled a “call centre management project – profiling of each and every volunteer/ supporter who had extended his/ her support to get involved in our Mission 272+ just by giving missed call, SMS, or WhatsApp to our single nationwide toll free number”.
The profile also managed the “database to be provided constituency wise to BJP Candidate as additional support for national elections and state elections of Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi”. This information was deleted from the LinkedIn profile by Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, Tyagi had told The Indian Express that it had for BJP it 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, he added that he 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.