Few months after being caught in a whirlwind controversy for its link with tainted erstwhile Cambridge Analytica, the Congress party, sources confirm to Republic TV, has found its new election strategist. And it is yet again foreign.
While on his trip to Europe, and during his time in London, Congress president Rahul Gandhi met with noted Harvard professor Steve Jarding, a public policy expert and political consultant, sealing a deal to manage the party's 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Sources in London also say the meeting was very hush-hush, with not even the top Congress media and publicity team in the loop.
Most notably, Jarding had managed Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav's bid for a second successive term in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. SP and Congress fought the elections together, even though Rahul Gandhi, who was the face for the latter, had a different strategist. The campaign was highly unsuccessful with both parties losing in a landslide to the BJP.
After his first tryst with Indian politics, Jarding, a founding partner and CEO of the consultancy SJB Strategies International, has come on board for the Congress campaign. Sources also confirm that the contract will officially be signed in the coming days but in principle, the deal is done.
In 2017, Congress was pitched a proposal to manage its 2019 campaign by Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica, the UK based firm at the heart of the massive data breach controversy spanning continents. Congress party had tied itself in knots, initially denying any such association and then later accepting that they had received a proposal, with Rahul Gandhi along with senior leaders having met the company CEO.
The Congress has tried various strategies in the last few months to counter PM Narendra Modi factor. From the initial 'suit boot ki sarkar' to 'Gabbar Singh Tax' jibe and the GST and the latest attack on the Rafale Deal, Congress President himself is at the forefront. Still, even within the party and outside, Rahul Gandhi is seen as a lightweight against the PM, and changing that will be Steve Jarding's biggest challenge in the next 8 months.
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