Gujarat polls saw data crunching to build local profiles


Photo credit Twitter Gujarat AAP

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 6: People in Gujarat have voted and the television has announced the winners. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal spent most of their days in the last two months in Gujarat, while former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi made a cameo appearance.

Over the top, the key faces of the political parties sought to build wave even while the electoral season had turned arid, with some of the political commentators calling the Gujarat elections “boring”. On the ground, the full strength of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had taken positions in each of the districts, not campaigning among the people, but glued to their laptops and crunching data to guide the election campaign.

They sought to identify local areas of distress, and they worked with data to make a sense of the financial health of the people living there. If there was distress, appropriate response, depending on which side of the fence the party was placed, would be initiated. “The localized data will help us understand whether the people are happy or at distress. If the people in certain areas are paying their EMIs around the due date or missing the deadline, this will give signal that the voters in such zones are under stress and they may turn hostile to the ruling party,” said one political strategist, who led a team of data scientists during the Gujarat election campaign.

Till a few years ago, the political parties had confined to making the caste profile of the voters, and accordingly planning their outreach to them. Now, the political armies are armed with data analysts, who are sourcing data from multiple sources, which could give a general idea of a small township or even a colony. Paying EMIs on time, consumer activities, rea-estate and other indicators were mapped to the data to generate profiles of the constituencies to help the parties build their election campaign on the ground, sources said.

While micro-management of elections has been a norm for several decades, which has gained prominence in the recent years, agencies are stated to be working to give pin-pointed intelligent data about the electorate at a very local level. It is worthwhile to state that the political parties now have built cadres, specially the BJP and AAP, who map each household in a political booth.

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