British data analytics and election strategy firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), which is embroiled in a scandal for allegedly using personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their consent, has stated that it was involved in the 2010 Bihar Assembly election and said its client "achieved a landslide victory".
"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 electoral apathy, a result of the poor and unchanging condition of the state after 15 years of incumbent rule," said the firm on its website.
It went on to add that "CA was tasked to organize 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 percent of total seats targeted by CA being won."
The data analytics and election strategy firm didn't mention the name of any political party or parties it had worked with, but the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were the only major political parties that saw a huge increase in seat tally in the 2010 Bihar Assembly election.
The JD-U won 115 seats in the 2010 election compared to 88 in the previous polls, while the BJP increased its seat tally from 55 to 91.
An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, which broke the news of CA using personal data of millions of Facebook users to influence the 2016 US presidential election, revealed that "Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) had worked in more than two hundred elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina."
Reports of Cambridge Analytica's links with Indian political parties have led to a war of words in the country.
The Congress' Manish Tewari said in a tweet Wednesday that the Election Commission of India should recommend an investigation to find the party or parties linked to CA.
Meanwhile, Information Technology and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged at a press conference that the Congress had links with CA.
"Will the Congress depend upon data manipulation and theft to win votes? Rahul Gandhi should explain the role of Cambridge Analytica in his social media profile," he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala rubbished Prasad's allegations, saying neither the Congress nor its president Rahul Gandhi used CA's services. He termed the allegations a "fake agenda and white lie being dished out by Ravi Shankar Prasad."
He went to say that "Cambridge Analytica website has stated that BJP-JD-U had used its services in 2010" and that its partner company Ovlene Business Intelligence (OBI) was run by the son of an MP from a BJP ally.
The Congress' social media head Divya Spandana aka Ramya also termed Prasad's called "absolutely false." She said the BJP-led government at the Centre was leveling a baseless allegation at the Congress just to divert attention from the controversy surrounding the killing of 39 Indians by ISIS in Iraq.
"News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false [sic]," Ramya tweeted.
"Can you @rsprasad please tell us why your Govt lied to us about the 39 Indians who died in Iraq? You hid the information and now you're trying to divert attention from the issue by making outrageous allegations against the Congress party [sic]," she added.