China is Watching: From Ministers to Mayors, sarpanches, and legislators to Members of Parliament, the database includes at least 1,350 politicians and lawmakers across parties.
In the Overseas Key Information Database (OKIDB) developed by the Shenzhen information technology firm with links to the Chinese government and the Communist Party, politicians account for the largest group of high-profile individuals being monitored through their online presence.
From Ministers to Mayors, sarpanches, and legislators to Members of Parliament, the database includes at least 1,350 politicians and lawmakers across parties — BJP, Congress, Left and almost all regional outfits; spread across the country from Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the north to Odisha in the east, Maharashtra in the west, and Tamil Nadu in the south.
As The Indian Express sifted through granular data over a two-month-long investigation, it found that the database that took just two years for the Shenzhen-headquartered company to build using Artificial Intelligence and big data techniques, included:
- At least 700 politicians with a direct mention, and another 460 individuals who are close relatives of politicians.
- A ‘family list’ of over 100 politicians, in what appears to be an attempt to create a ‘family tree’.
- At least 350 current and former Parliamentarians; of whom several were/are members of House Committees.
In the OKIDB are at least 40 former and current Chief Ministers and Deputy CMs or their family members. They are not just from BJP-ruled or Congress-ruled states, but also from states led primarily by regional parties — including Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, and Delhi. These include Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Hemant Soren, AAP’s Manish Sisodia, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, and Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray.
Also on the list are a dozen current and former Governors of states.
Significantly, the OKIDB tracks 70 Mayors and Deputy Mayors of big and small cities in India: from Hisar in Haryana and Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh to those in Jodhpur, Agra, Guwahati, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Srinagar, Ghaziabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Vadodara, Junagadh, Panaji, and Jalandhar. In China, a Mayor is the highest-ranking official in a city, and wields administrative power, even if answerable to the municipal secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
Also, just in terms of numbers, most politicians being tracked belong to the two big national parties, BJP and Congress, with at least 200 from each. Politicians from Left parties including the CPI, CPM, and Forward Bloc, are also in good numbers — there are at least 60 who are either current or former MLAs and MPs belonging to one of the parties from the Left.
Some of the prominent families being tracked are the Gandhis (both of late Rajiv Gandhi and late Sanjay Gandhi), the Pawars (Sharad, Supriya), the Scindias (Jyotiraditya and wife), Sangmas (daughter and sons of late Purno Sangma), and the Badals. Interestingly, in the list are also families of Bollywood actors who ventured into politics — such as Hema Malini, Anupam Kher, Moon Moon Sen, Paresh Rawal, and the late Vinod Khanna.
At least two former Presidents, late Pranab Mukherjee and late APJ Abdul Kalam or their relatives; five former Prime Ministers — late Rajiv Gandhi, late P V Narasimha Rao, late A B Vajpayee, H D Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh or their close relatives/associates, are among the politicians who are part of the OKIDB.
Many former CMs of states or their relatives under watch are Kamal Nath, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Ashok Chavan, Siddaramaiah, Shankar Vaghela, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Kiran Kumar Reddy, Raman Singh, late Manohar Parrikar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, late N Janardhana Reddy, late S R Bommai, late M Karunanidhi and late Jyoti Basu.
Also in OKIDB are Shashi Tharoor, Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, Meenakshi Lekhi, Abhishek Banerjee (Mamata’s nephew), Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, and Divya Spandana.