'Vijay Nair Knows How To Counter BJP, That's Why He's Jailed,' Say AAP Insiders

Vijay Nair is known to stay in the backroom, which is why his arrest comes as a shock to many close to him in AAP.

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'Vijay Nair Knows How To Counter BJP, That's Why He's Jailed,' Say AAP Insiders

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"After failing in 2019 (Lok Sabha elections), Vijay did a SWOT analysis of the campaign. For 2020, he rebuilt the team. He then came up with the idea of portraying Kejriwal as 'Dilli Ka Beta'. He was behind the Kejriwal campaign in 2020. At that time, people said PK (Prashant Kishor) was the brains behind the AAP election campaign, but that was not the case," said a former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) functionary who has worked with Vijay Nair, the party's campaign and social media strategist who was arrested in the alleged Delhi liquor excise policy scam.

Nair was first to be arrested on Wednesday, 28 September, among the 15 people mentioned in the chargesheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in which Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia is 'accused no. 1.'

Nair is seen as somebody who "quickly rose through the ranks" but has preferred to keep away from the limelight. Sources close to him claim that he has never wanted an active political career beyond being the party's campaign strategist.

Nair began working for the AAP in 2014-15, focussing on the party's social media strategy, events and fundraising in 2018. However, he assumed assumed a larger role ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

A key campaign strategist of AAP, the Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra Yojana for senior citizens, the Dilli ke Farishte campaign, the free electricity campaign - all were led by Nair.


'A Strategist Who Understands the BJP Well'

Sources say that one of Nair's key goals has always been to not play at the hands of the campaigns being run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"The BJP wants to parties to fall prey to constantly raise voice for just one side, so it can portray as if those parties don't care about the majority at all. AAP avoided that. Vijay always stressed upon strategising campaigns around policies and said that they benefit all, irrespective of majority or minority," a former AAP member who worked closely with Nair during the 2019 and 2020 elections said.

Vijay, he said, believed that the BJP is portraying a wrong idea of Hindutva.

Quizzed over the AAP's downplaying and absence from the ground on several controversies like the CAA-NRC protests, the attacks at Jamia and JNU, and the 2020 Delhi riots, he said that Vijay always believed in "not falling prey to the BJP's game."

"Vijay had understood that Hindus can be radicalised for a while, but not permanently. So he strategised the campaigns on the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, which he strongly believes in," he added.

"He married the concepts of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb and development. He spoke only about the development narrative, brought BJP in the ring, and defeated them," he said.

He further claimed that it was Vijay's idea that at least one Delhi government employee accompanies every SDM and team of police force to the homes of those affected after the 2020 riots to ensure that the damages are accurately accounted for for appropriate compensation.


'Elections Are an Event': Nair's Rise

Interestingly, Nair does not officially hold any post in the party, though it has called him the 'communications in-charge of AAP' in the statement issued after his arrest.

Nair has served as the director of at least six event companies in the past, the most prominent being OML Entertainment Private Limited. His prior stints with event management is what helped him get prominent personalities for AAP's campaigns and fundraisers and chalk out promotion strategies for the party, sources said.

"For Nair, elections are like managing an event, given his background," said a former AAP member who worked closely with Nair said.

Ahead of the 2015 Assembly elections, he came up with the 'Dinner with Kejriwal' campaign in order to raise funds for the polls, which would be attended by the party's supporters and help the senior party members

"The team was devastated after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. For 2020, he hired a team of youngsters. He then came up with the campaign idea of 'Dilli Ka Beta'. He was behind the Kejriwal campaign in 2020. He understands the BJP well," he said. 


Vijay filled the vacuum for a media and social media strategist in the party's early days.

"How he became prominent in the party is because at it was a very small party, like a start-up. In AAP, there is room for young professionals. Just like Sandeep Pathak played a key role - he was good with data; Raghav Chadha - he is good as a mascot for the party. It is a party of young go-getters and it's not unusual for young professionals to rise within the party. When Arvind says that he is just another volunteer, it is true, but he is an important volunteer," a senior party functionary told The Quint.

"Vijay brings professionalism which induces a kind of discipline and standardisation into the party's communication channels and media strategies. These processes were improved by him," the functionary said.

Vijay was known to stay in the backroom, which is why his arrest comes as a shock to many close to him in the party circles.

"Vijay is not a political person, he is not a politician. He is from a corporate background, which might have been the reason that he chose to be in the backroom. People (within AAP) are generally angry that he has been arrested," another former AAP member, who has worked closely with Nair, said.


Since his arrest, both Kejriwal and Sisodia have openly given statements on his arrest, but most other prominent leaders who have worked closely with him for years have chosen to stick to the official party statement.

The party has alleged that Nair has been pressurised by the CBI to falsely implicate Sisodia during his questioning and that the BJP is "afraid" of AAP's growing popularity in Gujarat.

A Delhi court on Wednesday allowed the CBI five days of custodial interrogation of Nair.

According to the CBI, Nair, who is associated with AAP entered into a criminal conspiracy with others, and in furtherance of the conspiracy, the excise policy of the government of the national capital territory of Delhi (GNCTD) of 2021-2022 was framed and implemented.

“He (Nair) will even be required to be questioned with regard to the nature of data, which is stated to have been deleted from his mobile phones by way of formatting,” the court said.

The motive was to provide undue and illegal favours to liquor manufacturers and distributors at the cost of the government exchequer and the policy resulted in a huge revenue loss to the government, the CBI has alleged.

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Topics:  Aam Aadmi Party   AAP   Vijay Nair 

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