Was ‘Project Shakti’ behind Congress’ failure in Lok Sabha elections?

New Delhi | Going through one of the darkest periods of his 133-year history, every step taken by the Congress party tackle its arch rival BJP seems today backfired for it.

The latest been the Project Shakti, a data collection project by the Congress party which was initiated before the Lok Sabha elections with an aim to transform a loose volunteer-based party to the cadre-based organisation. The project was supposed to link Party workers voter id to their number which would help the Congress party to know their exact numbers of party workers on the ground.

As per a report published in Economic Times, the Data Analytics Department under Praveen Chakravarty, gave the Congress party feedback under the Project Shakti which was “non-existent” or even “manufactured”, without secondary “validation” and finally turned in to an “echo chamber”, telling Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s office “what it wanted him to hear”.

Also Read: How Rahul Gandhi was fooled by his own team in Lok Sabha elections

So how it all started, the Congress party in order to counter the gigantic Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and reach it’s ground level begin a data collection project where the Congress party wanted to link the party workers voters ids to their numbers which would help the grand old party to transform from volunteer-based party to cadre-based party. As the party publicised with this project the Congress president would reach to each worker through the data collected and call the party worker at the ground level which would energise him to work for the party.

But this entire project didn’t go like the Congress party expected. Quoting a Congress insider the report said, the pilot project of the Shakti began before the 2018 Karnataka Lok Sabha election. The Congress party wanted to collect the data from booth level of every assembly constituency which was quite difficult compared to the block level as the State of Karnataka had around 55 thousand booths where around 4-5 lakh were to be found. This huge level of data collection led to the rise of fake data.

The Congress District committee in Karnataka was registering every other person as their party worker under this project. The pressure to this entire project lead to a situation where the competition was announced and the rewards was a meeting with the Congress President. In Telangana, a local Congress leader gave the contract of enrollment to a call center while another leader posed like an Election Commission official and enrolled around 12,000-15,000 members by going to every household.

The report further quoting a party insider said that this entire project ended up resulting the party with around 50-70% fake data while only 30-35% were hardcore Congress workers. This party leader got an idea about it when the Social media sent some of the Campaign videos to the Shakti members on a test run in a hope to get these videos viral. But the videos ended up getting only 20-25,000 views far from what is called Viral in the world of Social Media.

The Congress leaders also approached the party president to decentralise the entire department but were never given a nod. The leaders could not access the data provided by the data analytics department. Chakravarty who lead the department had tight control over the data and his influence in the party was to an extent that senior Congress leader called him Super President for a period of 6 months.

The data collected by Chakravarty and his team also made the Congress president believe that Indo-France Rafale deal was an issue where the BJP government could be countered in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Senior Congress leader quoted in the report said that the top level leaders did not address the Rafale deal during the election campaign as they were at loggerheads with Chakravarty. They believed that the entire Rafale was not an issue to go ahead in the parliamentary elections and was fed into the Congress president’s ear by Chakravarty.


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