Experienced data analyst Praveen Chakravarty to head the department; Congress is the only party to have a data analytics wing.
New Delhi: The grand old party of Indian politics is catching up with the future.
In what is thought to be a first for a political party in the country, the Congress has set up a data analytics department to gauge the popularity of its leaders and the party, an exercise aimed at revamping the party ahead of the 2019 general election.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has appointed Praveen Chakravarty, an experienced data analyst and senior fellow at IDFC Institute, Mumbai, as chairman of the newly-created department.
“My expertise is analysing data and here in the party I shall be doing the same,” Praveen Chakravarty told ThePrint.
“Data analysis would help us know our workers and voters better besides the issues which can make an impact on the ground,” Chakravarty, who will lead a team of data experts, added.
The existing computer department has been merged with the data analytics wing. The new department will work in conjunction with the Congress research wing headed by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda, a former IIM-Bangalore professor.
Sources privy to the development said that the move is an attempt by Rahul to reduce his dependence on leaders to get feedback from ground and prepare his own set of people which can deal with critical issues.
The decision was taken since the Congress president is under the impression that state leaders often give mixed opinions on key issues due to their rivalry with other leaders and the party doesn’t get the real picture, the sources said.
The data experts will do surveys and analysis to gauge the popularity of leaders and the party. The exercise will also help make decisions on party candidates for 2019 polls.
The department is going to play a big role in the party’s policy making. Apart from some electoral surveys, the department has been asked to provide analysis on any current regional or national issue and how the party can strategise to take advantage of the situation.
It would provide all sorts of economic and policy-related data analysis to Rahul Gandhi which he can use in his speeches.
The department will have professionals from outside as well as party leaders.
“There are some people I have worked with in the past. I am also working along with some party leaders. But we won’t be a kingdom,” said Chakravarty.
Chakravarty is an alumnus of BITS Pilani and Wharton School. He was the managing director of BNP Paribas and had resigned in 2010 to work with Nandan Nilekani in the UIDAI project. He is also the founding trustee of IndiaSpend, a data journalism initiative.
Chakravarty will report directly to Rahul Gandhi.
The copy has been updated to rectify a factual error.