Ajay Singh: The ‘Revamp’ Man for Ailing Business Groups

Singh was part of the advertising team of BJP’s 2014 campaign.
Singh was part of the advertising team of BJP’s 2014 campaign. (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Ajay Singh: The ‘Revamp’ Man for Ailing Business Groups

SpiceJet is a common name in the Indian household, and the co-founder and owner of this low-cost airline is allegedly set to take over the popular news channel NDTV. According to reports , Ajay Singh has taken over majority of the company's share. Although the channel has denied the reports, sources hint affirmative to the change of hands. While the confusion prevails, the question remains – who is Ajay Singh?

Who is Ajay Singh?

The accredited hero of Modi's election war room and a man known for his skills of revamping beleaguered business groups, Ajay Singh is an alumnus of Delhi's St Columba's school. After completing his engineering from IIT Delhi, he went on to study MBA in Finance at Cornell University in New York. He was also the president of University’s India Association. On the completion of his education, Singh initially went on to join his family's real estate and fashion accessories business.

Tryst With Doordarshan

In 1996, Singh was asked to come on board the Delhi Transport Corporation by the then Transport Minister Rajendra Gupta. He ensured a rise in fleet by 6,000, from about 300, in only two years.

Impressed by his skills, Pramod Mahajan conferred on him the responsibility of revamping Doordarshan. He started DD Sports and DD News on Doordarshan. His performance was recognised and he was asked to join as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) when Mahajan moved to the Telecom Ministry. He contributed towards the drafting of National Telecom Policy and Information Technology Act.

In 2004, he took over the defunct ModiLuft airline and refurbished it to a profit-making business, before he handed over the ownership to media baron Kalanidhi Maran in 2010. 

However, the company was plagued by financial losses and Singh was brought back into action in 2015.

Is Ajay Singh the Man Behind "Ab Ki Baar, Modi Sarkaar"?

On an interesting note, the about-to-be owner of a media group was also a part of the core advertising team of the BJP's election campaign during the crucial 2014 Lok Sabha Election. Although credited for coining "Ab ki Baar, Modi Sarkar", the slogan that spun the poll campaign on its head for Narendra Modi, he has a lot of other claimants as well.

Ullekh NP in his book War Room:The People, Tactics and Technology Behind Narendra Modi's 2014 Win, which was published as an article on Scroll.in, writes:

I once had a conversation with two non-BJP members of Team Modi, just before the final phase of elections on 12 May, when one of them claimed it was he who came up with the catchline.

While Piyush Pandey, the popular "ad guru" is the other claimant of the slogan, there is a high probability that Ullekh was referring to Ajay Singh as the person who confirmed the claim.

A sports buff at heart, Singh was also made the president of the Boxing Federation of India in 2016. He was his school's cricket and hockey team captain, where Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, a batch junior, used to be a wicket keeper.

Whether the harbinger of “Achhe Din” for Modi Sarkaar and several other ailing companies will be able to bring in a new spin to NDTV is something we need to wait and watch.