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How Much Do BJP and Congress Spend on Data Analysis? No One Knows

While available literature suggests that two of India’s biggest political parties used the services of the controversial companies, there is still no clarity as to how much they actually spent on them.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:March 23, 2018, 1:14 PM IST
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How Much Do BJP and Congress Spend on Data Analysis? No One Knows
Congress party flag carrying a picture of Sonia Gandhi are kept next to flags of the BJP. (File photo/Reuters)
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New Delhi: As the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook data breach controversy refuses to die down, one imperative question that has come to the fore is how much do these political parties spend on mining data and analysing it?

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has accused the Congress of using the services of Cambridge Analytica, a controversial offshoot of British company SCL Group that deals in data mining and analysis for electoral procedures.

While the ruling party accused the opposition, it came to the fore that Cambridge Analytica had in fact worked with the BJP too. Its India partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) stated on its website that it had worked with the JD(U) in 2010 and secured its win. Interestingly, the BJP was in alliance with the party back then.

While available literature suggests that two of India’s biggest political parties used the services of the controversial companies, there is still no clarity as to how much they actually spent on them.

A light-hearted take on the Facebook data mining scandal. A light-hearted take on the Facebook data mining scandal.




Both the BJP and the Congress have their own big data and analysis team which helps streamline their political strategy. There are certain firms who have worked with the parties before, without divulging details of the remuneration involved.

Interestingly, even the Election Commission has no idea how much these parties spend on the procedure. Sources at the EC said the jurisdiction of the Commission ends with asking the parties to declare their annual expenditure and putting it up on the website. “We don’t know details of how and where they spend it,” the source added.

News18 also sent out an email to the EC for an official response. This report will be updated if and when a response is received.

With respect to social media and publicity, the EC’s revised guidelines as of October 2017 on expenditure during election campaigns states that “a candidate shall include payments made to internet companies and websites for carrying advertisements and also campaign related operational expenditure on creative development of content, operational expenditure on salaries and wages paid to the team of workers employed to maintain their social media accounts.”

It also states that expenses related to publicity materials, including posters, banners, etc must also be disclosed.

Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of National Election Watch at the Association for Democratic Reforms, said that the problem in the end was false declaration made by the politicians.

“What’s the point of someone declaring one amount and spending more than that. The task is to ensure clear and factual declaration for which he/she is held accountable for,” Chhokar said.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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