Rebel Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla on Tuesday released a copy of a document which was allegedly presented to the Congress party by controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The document, which appears more like a pitch to strike a deal, was titled as “Data Driven Campaign: The Path to the 2019 Lok Sabha”. Speaking to the FinancialExpress.com, Poonawalla claimed that his sources confirm that Cambridge Analytica ex-CEO Alexander Nix met Rahul just before he became President of the Congress party.
Pointing out that there is a remarkable difference in party’s social media strategy, Poonawalla indicated that the Congress may be using CA’s services by striking a deal via some front-end companies. As per him, the proposal on paper carried a value of around Rs 2.5 crore. He, however, claimed that the actual amount of the deal could be actually be around Rs 400 crore.
“Alexander Nix met Rahul just before he became President of INC as per my sources and pitched this … a remarkable difference and upswing took place in Gujarat elections as far Rahul’s campaign is concerned thereafter… would it be unfair to then say that Cambridge Analytica ka haath, Rahul ke Saath?” Poonawalla said.
“Wylie, the whistleblower, admitted Congress was a client.. Nix had a picture of the Congress logo in his office adorning it as an esteemed client… these dots beg to be connected by any reasonable person,” he said.
Shehzad also lambasted Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and social media head Divya Spandana for categorically denying the party’s links with the firm. “From day one, I have maintained that Congress was trying to take this firm’s services. However, Randeep Surjewala and Divya Spandana categorically denied this,” he said. “It has turned out that all those statements were clear-cut lies. Divya said that Rahul Gandhi indeed met Cambridge Analytica CEO before he became president of the Indian National Congress,” Poonawalla added.
What does the document contain?
The 49-page document released by Poonawalla and reviewed by FinancialExpress.com contains election-related subjects such as National Situational Analysis, National Data Infrastructure project, and “behavarioul research, data analytics, ccommunication strategy and campaign delivery” for Lok Sabha elections 2019. It also contains information around the Assembly polls for the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. In component 3 of the document, CA Political, the firm’s arm which deals with political projects, boasted about Donald Trump’s campaign as a case study.
Earlier, a big controversy had erupted after Cristopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica-turned-whistleblower, had claimed that the company worked extensively in India and believed it was employed by the Congress party. Wylie had made his comments in his testimony before a UK parliamentary committee investigating the issue of fake news. The issue had turned into a big controversy back home as the ruling BJP had charged Congress of using the company’s services to influence voters.