Firm managed by JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi’s son facilitated Cambridge Analytica’s meetings in Delhi; says no deal with any party has been reached yet.
New Delhi: In July last year, representatives of Cambridge Analytica, the Britain-based political consultancy at the centre of the Facebook data row, had visited Delhi and made lengthy presentations to top BJP and Congress leaders, perhaps eyeing a deal for the 2019 poll campaign, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources familiar with the developments said that a Ghaziabad-based firm, managed by Amrish Tyagi, the son of Janata Dal (United) leader K.C. Tyagi, had accompanied Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, and his team while they were in Delhi.
“Our company Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI) is a subsidiary of Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica,” Tyagi said.
“However, we are a ground research team. We have nothing to do with data. I can’t tell you anything…as this could become a legal issue,” he said.
However, a source in his company confirmed that OBI was part of the pitch to the BJP and the Congress. “Both the parties received our presentation very enthusiastically. However, I don’t think a deal has been signed so far. As far as we know, the deal with the Congress looked more likely,” the source said.
The source said that the work of the firm is to collate booth-wise data and study voting patterns. “We are not involved in any sort of data mining from social media. We are a research team that was working on booth-wise data which is perfectly legal work,” the source said.
“We can collate data for past 10 years. If CA needed our ground support, we were willing to do research work for them. And the data could be of any elections — from panchayats to Lok Sabha,” added the source.
Asked about allegations of data theft in the wake of the FB data row, the sources said that it is pure politics. “There is no data theft or mining in India. All OBI has done is to provide ground intelligence from data that we collated. An advisory to this effect has also been issued by the company,” added the source.
Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress continue to level allegations against each other.
Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted, “In this report on Cambridge Analytica there is an ostensible claim by them or the jurno’s that they have worked on Indian elections/campaigns. Election Commission should enquire/recommend investigation what services & to whom they were offering in India (sic).”
Divya Spandana, the social media head of Congress tweeted, “News about Congress engaged/engaging with Cambridge Analytica is absolutely false.”
Countering these allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked, “What link does Cambridge Analytica have with social media management of Rahul Gandhi and Congress Party?”
“This is not just a question of Congress party’s association with a rogue data analysis firm but it is a question of free and fair elections in India and democratic values of our country.”