The Indian National Congress seems to be ready to make full use of big data and data analytics to prepared for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019. After facing a gigantic defeat in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, and the following Assembly polls, the Congress party seems to be ready to try out new things this time.
Earlier this February, the Congress party had announced that their computer department had been renamed as ‘Data Analytics Department’.
According to a news report, Congress’ freshly-minted Data Analytics Department is dissecting the numbers they have compiled. These figures include vote share, seats and the apparent shifting of voting patterns since 2009. The INC is going to use the analytics gun to strategise against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2019 Lok Sabha battle.
He told an online news portal that the INC’s approach to data is “pure science”. Chakravarty added, “For us, data is important to make a decision and is not something that we think of when there is an election coming up and then we forget about it after the election.”
The Wharton School alumnus also said that the INC would use data to make decisions like:
- Who should the election tickets be given to
- Who should the INC ally with
- What should the INC’s stand be
- How to convince voters
The move to strengthen the Congress’ analytics department may stem from the fact that Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie had claimed that the data analytics firm which has been charged and convicted of data breach, worked extensively in India and “believed” that the Congress party had employed the firm for certain regional elections in India.
Wylie had stated, “I believe their [CA’s] client was Congress. But I know that they have done all kinds of projects. I don’t remember a national project, but I know regionally. I mean India is so big that you know that one state can be, you know, as big as Britain.”
But Chakravarty is more than cautious about perils of misuse of data. He told the news portal:
“We are very clear that we will only deal with public data and on rare occasions private data with consent.”
“There has been no breach in the Congress party previously nor there will be in the future. We are very strict about these issues.”
In September 2017, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had also visited the US to meet noted personalities in the AI and analytics fields. He also reportedly met several think-tanks from Silicon Valley at the San Francisco Bay and discussed future technologies.
The leap towards basing decisions and policies on data analytics hot on the heels of their bitter defeat against the BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka assembly elections last month. When the BJP failed to prove the majority in the Rajya Sabha by eight votes, Congress formed a majority-based with JD(S).
Interestingly the BJP had invested a huge chunk of money as well as manpower on technology, social media, data analysis and marketing, during the runup to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Arvind Gupta, who had led the IT team for BHP before the last elections, had used technology and data to communicate and to convert people into volunteers and volunteers into voters. He even ran a campaign internally called ‘Organise online for success offline’. Like any company, the BJP IT cell used data to understand trends, pick markets correctly and run the campaign.