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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Congress looks to limit use of its digital network Shakti

Shakti is the digital network of Congress sympathisers and party workers across the country. It became a talking point, with the Congress using it extensively during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2019 06:36 IST
The much-hyped Shakti network of the Congress, developed by its previous data analytics department before this year’s national elections, will now be used only for the upcoming membership drive and as a platform for senior leaders to reach out to the grass-roots workers.
The much-hyped Shakti network of the Congress, developed by its previous data analytics department before this year’s national elections, will now be used only for the upcoming membership drive and as a platform for senior leaders to reach out to the grass-roots workers. (HT File Photo)
         

The much-hyped Shakti network of the Congress, developed by its previous data analytics department before this year’s national elections, will now be used only for the upcoming membership drive and as a platform for senior leaders to reach out to the grass-roots workers. The department too, has been downsized drastically and, according to Congress insiders, many analysts working in the department had been let off.

Shakti is the digital network of Congress sympathisers and party workers across the country. It became a talking point, with the Congress using it extensively during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It was used for snap polls to judge the popularity of candidates, for gauging workers’ mood on important issues and for even providing inputs for election manifesto. Party insiders pointed out that a survey was taken on the Shakti app on whether the Congress should ally with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi.

But after with the Congress’ internal assessments going haywire about its poll prospects and the party putting up a disastrous show, the usage of Shakti would be limited. The data analytics department chief, Praveen Chakravarthy, too, has been re-designated as the chairman of the “AICC technology and data cell within the organization”, in what many see as a downgrading of the department that worked independently in its previous avatar. Speaking to HT on Thursday, Chakravarthy claimed he himself had suggested that “the department should be a part of the organizational mainstream”.

“A lot of work will be done now through the Shakti. It will be actively used for the membership drive and a communication platform with workers,” he said.

The party’s data cell, however, has undergone many changes. During the poll season, it was teeming with workers, and professionals. But after the results were out, the office was actually locked down for many days. “It was all but disbanded,” said a senior Congress leader.

Chakravarthy too, confirmed that his team was downsized. “You have to remember that during an election, many more people are required. Now, there no national elections round the corner so we don’t need such a large team.”

While Chakravarthy claimed his team never made any poll predictions or election surveys, at least two senior leaders added that in the internal meetings, Chakravarthy sounded confident of the results, while referring to trends picked up by his department. Along with former finance minister P Chidambaram,
Chakravarthy was widely seen as the architect of the NYAY announcement —the party’s key poll plank.

First Published: Sep 07, 2019 05:44 IST

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