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Did AI Lead to the Rise of Congress-Led INDIA Bloc

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by SPN Editor

The recent election results have indeed been a surprise. The Congress-led INDIA bloc has made significant gains, a development that could be likened to the rise of a phoenix. This has come as a shock to the BJP and several exit poll pundits.

The results, announced on June 4, send a clear message that people’s confidence in the BJP has waned. The NDA Alliance, which won 360 out of 543 seats in the 2019 election, has seen its tally reduced to 293 seats in 2024, losing 67 seats.

On the other hand, the INDIA bloc, led by the Congress party, has gained 115 seats this time, surprising pollsters with a total of 234 seats. This is a significant increase from the 119 seats they won in the last 2019 election.

The BJP leaders have attributed the rise of the INDIA bloc to foreign firms spreading an anti-BJP campaign, which they believe led to the fall in NDA seats. They have also suggested a link to the use of AI in the recently concluded election. Artificial intelligence has emerged as a game-changer, marking what is being termed as India’s inaugural “AI election.” This pivotal shift manifested in several key areas.

Did AI Helped INDIA Bloc in the Election?

Congress-led INDIA Bloc has been known for its ground campaigns. The Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Nyay Yatra are notable examples of these campaigns, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. These campaigns have allowed the party to connect directly with the people, understand their issues, and communicate their policies effectively. While AI can provide valuable insights and data, the human touch and direct interaction provided by ground campaigns are irreplaceable in political discourse.

Influence of Deepfakes and Social Media

The election campaign witnessed extensive use of deepfakes—AI-powered technology that generates hyper-realistic yet fabricated videos of real individuals. These manipulated videos, either lauding or denigrating various candidates, proliferated swiftly across social media platforms.

Prominent instances encompass deepfakes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi executing a Bollywood dance and a deceased politician from 2018 seemingly endorsing a friend’s candidacy. AI-crafted content facilitated political parties to interact with voters in novel ways.

Challenges and Worldwide Implications

India’s encounter with deepfakes acts as a cautionary tale about potential disruptions in electoral processes worldwide, including the forthcoming U.S. elections. AI advancements have rendered deepfakes more accessible to create and increasingly convincing.

Nonetheless, this technology presents considerable ethical dilemmas. Certain AI developers have declined requests to modify parliamentary statements or fabricate phony phone conversations, underscoring the moral quandaries associated with AI utilization.

AI in Exit Polls and Forecasts

The incorporation of AI into exit polling has transformed electoral predictions in India. By boosting predictive precision and offering real-time insights, AI is reshaping the Indian electoral landscape.

Political consultant Sagar Vishnoi anticipates that AI will fuel 80% of campaigns in India within the next five years, significantly reducing campaign expenditures.

INDIA Bloc Restrain on Using AI

The impact of AI on Indian elections highlights its potential advantages and ethical challenges. As technology progresses, electoral processes globally will need to adjust to these developments.

Previous reports from the Microsoft Threat Analysis Centre (MTAC) also spotlighted China’s efforts to leverage AI-generated content to sway elections in various nations, including India, the U.S., and South Korea. Comparable strategies were reportedly trialed during Taiwan’s presidential elections.

Despite these disclosures, political parties such as the BJP and Congress-led INDIA bloc have recognized the use of AI tools for campaigning. Political strategists assert that AI has evolved into a significant resource, with the BJP pioneering the use of generative AI for electoral purposes, while INDIA bloc has exercised more restraint in its AI usage.

Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress

The Bharat Jodo Yatra, translating to “Unite India March,” was a heartfelt initiative led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and guided by the seasoned Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi. This extensive march was a call to unify the nation against the perceived “divisive politics” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Government of India. The journey, which spanned approximately 4,080 kilometers (2,540 miles) over nearly 150 days, began on September 7, 2022, from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India, and concluded in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The march was a significant endeavor to foster national unity.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin who is part of INDIA Bloc joined hands with Rahul Gandhi to launch the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The movement was marked by its inclusive message, aiming to unite diverse communities and counteract the perceived communal and divisive politics propagated by the ruling party.

Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra

Building on the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Indian National Congress announced a new initiative on December 27, 2023, called the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, or “Uniting India for Justice March.” This initiative, often referred to as the Nyay Yatra, was also led by Rahul Gandhi and aimed to address pressing livelihood issues such as inflation and unemployment.

The Nyay Yatra embarked on its journey on January 14, 2024, from Thoubal in Manipur and concluded on March 16, 2024, in Mumbai, traversing an impressive 6,200 kilometers across 14 states. Unlike the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which primarily focused on opposing communalism and divisive politics, the Nyay Yatra centered on economic justice and the everyday struggles of the Indian populace.

ECI Warns Political Parties in India

In early May, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a stern warning to political parties about the misuse of AI-based tools, particularly for creating deep fakes and distorting information during election campaigns. The ECI mandated that any such misleading content must be removed within three hours to maintain electoral integrity and comply with existing laws and directives.

The ECI’s directive stated, “In light of certain violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and current legal provisions by political parties and their representatives on social media, the Commission has today issued guidelines to ensure responsible and ethical use of social media in election campaigns, thereby ensuring a level playing field for all stakeholders.”

Controversy Over AI-Generated Modi Images

This announcement followed an incident in early March, where an AI-generated image of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, depicted as Bhishma Pitamah from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was promoted as a political advertisement on Instagram. Analysis of Meta’s Ad Library data revealed that from February 27 to March 21, the account “Hokage Modi Sama” pushed nearly 50 AI-generated images of Modi, making it the top advertiser of such content on Instagram. In the month leading up to March 29, this account spent Rs. 537,799 (approximately $6,500) to promote 363 pieces of political content, including images and videos, according to Meta Ad Library data.

Modi’s Vision for AI in India

Prime Minister Modi has emphasized the transformative potential of AI, particularly in overcoming language barriers in his election campaigns. “AI helps me communicate in Tamil, Telugu, and Odia,” he noted, praising the contributions of young tech experts in facilitating his work.

Modi also highlighted the evolution of digital interactions, remarking, “People used to ask for autographs, then photographs, and now selfies. Today, they want all three.” He mentioned a new feature on the NaMo app that allows people to use AI to get pictures with him.

Opportunities and Innovations

The Prime Minister pointed to the numerous opportunities AI brings for India’s youth and global investors, citing initiatives like the National Quantum Mission, India AI Mission, and Semiconductor Mission as key drivers of future possibilities. During an address to the U.S. Congress, Modi underscored AI’s global impact, humorously noting that ‘AI’ also stands for ‘America India,’ which received a standing ovation.

India’s Leadership in AI

Modi expressed confidence in India’s leadership in AI, promoting the concept of ‘Indian Solutions for Global Applications’ as a catalyst for innovation on a global scale. He highlighted the collaborative efforts of Indian children with their international peers in solving global problems, showcasing India’s diverse and challenging environment as an ideal testing ground for robust technological advancements.

Prime Minister Modi believes that India’s advancements in AI will not only benefit the nation but will also have significant global implications, positioning India as a key player on the international stage.

The involvement of AI in India’s recent elections signifies a considerable transformation in campaign conduct, introducing both opportunities and ethical dilemmas. As AI technology continues to advance, its influence on global electoral processes will be substantial and far-reaching.

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