NEW DELHI: Research firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), which is embroiled in a huge data mining scandal, made a proposal to the Congress party in October-November last year for "data mining of Facebook posts and tweets" and "influencing voter intention" for the 2019 national election. According to report by NDTV website, the CA proposal envisaged a "data-driven campaign" at a cost of $389,460 (about Rs 2.5 crore).
Cambridge Analytica CEO Nix met Rahul, tried to sell poll strategy
Congress sources said that such a meeting did, indeed, take place but denied that it had ever signed any deal with Cambridge Analytica. "Just being the recipient of a commercial proposal does not automatically imply a contractual engagement between the party and the vendor," Congress Data Analytics Department Head Praveen Chakravarthy was quoted as saying by NDTV.
The 50-page proposal, dated August 2017, is titled 'Data-Driven Campaign: The Path to the 2019 Lok Sabha'. The website added that Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, who has since been suspended, personally pitched the proposal to the Congress. Nix reportedly met then Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and P Chidambaram.
What the company offered included "Data mining of Facebook posts and Tweets", "extracting groundbreaking insights and shift balance in your favour", "influencing voter intention, to take specific actions", the NDTV web report said.
Sources also told NDTV that the Congress rejected the proposal because Cambridge Analytica was considered "right wing" and the party suspected that the company was trying to infiltrate the Congress. "The Congress party has not engaged Cambridge Analytica or any of its subsidiaries for any election campaigns. This has been re-iterated multiple times in the past," said Chakravarthy.