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Facebook data breach: Congress denies charges, accuses BJP of using Cambridge Analytica's services during Bihar, Gujarat polls

Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said that it was the BJP which hired the services of the controversial firm during Bihar and Gujarat elections.

Edited by: India TV Politics Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: March 21, 2018 21:17 IST ]
Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala
Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala

The Congress party today denied the ruling BJP’s allegations that it used services of data mining firm Cambridge Analytica the firm.

Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said that it was the BJP which hired the services of the controversial firm during Bihar and Gujarat elections.

Surjewala asserted that the services of the London-based company have never been hired by his party or its chief Rahul Gandhi.

The leader was reacting to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's charge that the Congress planned to use the firm's services for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and boost Gandhi's profile.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of illegally harvesting personal information from Facebook to influence polls in several countries.

Also Read: Data breach for elections? Govt asks Congress to explain 'ties with Cambridge Analytica', warns Facebook of action if it sways poll process

Surjewala termed Prasad's remarks as yet another attempt at "spin strategy" and to divert the country's attention from other issues.

"BJP's factory of fake news has produced one more fake product today. It appears that fake press conferences, fake agendas and fake spins and fake statements have become the everyday character of BJP and its 'lawless' minister of law Ravi Shankar Prasad," he told reporters.

The Congress leader said the company's website claims that it ran a research and communication campaign, and was contacted to undertake an in-depth electorate analysis for the Bihar assembly elections in 2010.

Claiming that Cambridge Analytica and another Indian firm OBI, run by the son of a prominent NDA leader from Bihar, complimented each other's businesses, Surjewala said their achievements include managing four successful election campaigns for the ruling BJP.

He claimed that Cambridge's local partner OBI talked of having achieved "target 272+" , providing constituency-wise database to BJP candidates and extending support to it in national elections and state elections of Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi.

Also Read: Facebook breach: Zuckerberg asked to testify; data firm’s CEO suspended

"It is not me who is saying so; it is Cambridge Analytica which is saying so. And they have partners in India whose businesses complement each other. They have done 272+ campaign and the campaign for four states," he said.

Speaking at a press conference here, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had cited media reports about the opposition party's plan to use the UK-based firm's services for the next Lok Sabha elections and to boost its president Rahul Gandhi's profile.

He asked Gandhi to explain the company's role in his social media outreach.

The firm, the minister alleged, has been accused of using "sex, sleaze and fake news" to influence elections and asked if the Congress too planned to walk the same path.

"After being involved in thefts of land, water, spectrum, natural resources, Congress in association with Cambridge Analytica, has now ventured into theft of online data," Prasad added.

With PTI Inputs 

Watch video: Kurukshetra : Special show on data breach row 

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