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Obama's poll staffers among scores of US consultants working in India

May 13, 2014 11:09 IST

Scores of American election campaign consultants, including several staffers who worked on United States President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, are in India, offering their expertise to several politicians and parties.

Special Coverage: Election 2014

This was revealed by Mumbai-based Adil Zainulbhai, point man for McKinsey & Company in India, who moderated the Brookings Institution conference on Re-Imagining India, which also served as a launch for the McKinsey publication.

He did not give out names, except saying, “It is the first Indian election in which several US consulting firms, who were involved in the last election here (in the US), are actually playing a role.”

He added, “Several people from the Obama campaign, who did all of the high-tech social media number-crunching, are actually in India, working with different parties to help them figure this out. We don’t know if it will make any difference or not, but they are there and it is also one of the elections where social media is playing an extraordinarily important role.”

He noted, “In the last election, in many rural parts of India, less than 10 per cent of people had mobile phones. In this election, roughly 40 to 50 per cent of the rural populations have mobile phones and in the cities everyone has one. So, this amount of spending on social media has actually been quite interesting. And since it is the first time it is happening to that extent, we don’t know what impact it will have. Everyone has their own story about what impact it will have.”

Image: Voters queue up outside a polling booth. Photograph: Reuters

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC