Vijay Nair: AAP’s low-key social media strategist weaves election magic

Vijay Nair was behind some of AAP’s smartest social media campaigns; after the success of the 2020 Delhi polls, his role has expanded to advise the AAP on policy, campaign, manifesto and political issues

Vijay Nair’s arrest could derail major AAP projects in Gujarat

Vijay Nair’s rise in the Aam Aadmi party was nothing short of meteoric. Often dubbed the blue-eyed boy of the AAP, Nair used his keen management acumen to add more gravitas to the party’s election campaigns with hard-hitting one-liners that resonated with the electorate.

According to the PTI news agency, Nair was arrested for his alleged role in “cartelization” and “conspiracy” in relation to alleged irregularities in the allocation of liquor licenses in Delhi. On Wednesday, September 28, a court in Delhi awarded the CBI custody of Nair for five days.

Since his arrest on September 27, senior AAP officials including party supremo Arvind Kejriwal have held several pressers to steer Nair away from the recently withdrawn liquor legislation (Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22) and called his arrest an attempt “to disrupt the functioning of AAP”, especially as he prepares to face the BJP in the upcoming polls in Gujarat.

Read also : CBI arrested Vijay Nair as he refused to name Sisodia in excise policy case: AAP

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In a statement on Tuesday, the AAP claimed that Nair was coerced into implicating Manish Sisodia and when he refused, he was arrested.

The discreet media strategist

Nair was the CEO of Only Much Louder (OML), a Mumbai-based entertainment and event management company. OML was popular for their NH7 Weekender concerts, which have become synonymous with independent music in India. The company has also promoted comedy collectives such as East India Comedy and All India Bakchod, the website reported.

In 2017, just a year before the sexual misconduct allegations against him, he quit the OML and joined the AAP fully.

Nair’s initial association with AAP began in 2014, when his work primarily revolved around managing social media strategy, fundraising and party event planning. However, his role has undergone a change in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections in 2020.

A national newspaper quoting a party insider said Nair managed the campaign from start to finish during the Delhi Assembly polls in 2020. His role changed and he became the sole campaign manager for the AAP.

He was behind some of AAP’s smartest social media campaigns and posts. After the success of the 2020 elections in Delhi, his role went beyond social media management and he started advising the party not only on communication but also on policy, campaigns, manifestos and political issues. Although there was a visible change in his role, he preferred to keep a low profile and work behind the scenes.

Punjab decisive count

The AAP’s massive victory in Punjab can be at least partly attributed to Nair’s careful handling of social media and his personal touch on the campaign. He solely managed the AAP’s communications strategies during the Punjab Assembly elections earlier this year, in which the party won a landslide victory.

At the time of his arrest, he was performing the same duties for the AAP, ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections, due later this year.

Punjab voters describing 5 years of Congress rule 😭#SharkTankAAP pic.twitter.com/w4YawcEkcC

— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 13, 2022

During the Punjab election campaign, Nair mainly focused on live videos as candidate CM Bhagwant Mann was widely seen communicating in the form of interviews and talks. Nair has also successfully used “Shark Tank” memes for digital campaigns. ‘Aan Main De Dunga AAP Tension Mat Lo‘ was one such slogan popularized by Nair. Compared to the 2017 campaign, its social media content was still relevant and topical.

Indians: We want world class education, quality healthcare, 24×7 free Bijli, etc.

Arvind Kejriwal 👇🏻 #SharkTankAAP pic.twitter.com/ELk629k5ok

— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 13, 2022

Extensive use of words like badlav (change) during campaigns resonated with voters as the “Delhi model” was presented to them. Slogans such as ‘Education First’ were widely promoted by Nair as he sought to base the entire campaign on important social issues.

Read also : BJP-led center’s sole objective is to destroy AAP: Sanjay Singh

Gujarat Battlefield

Nair’s arrest could derail the AAP’s quest to form the next government in Gujarat. With proven success in Delhi and Punjab, Nair was creating a niche around its social media campaigns with original and engaging slogans. But, the political parties in the electoral fray, notably the BJP, have deployed their digital arsenal to add one more dimension to their campaign, and this aspect may harm AAP.

Psephologists say Kejriwal succeeded in turning Gujarat’s elections into a BJP vs AAP narrative while Congress, the main opposition party, offers a “cold response”. The AAP supremo had launched his party’s election campaign in Gujarat as early as April 1, when he organized a tour to Ahmedabad, on the strength of the party’s formidable victory in Punjab.

Allegations against AAP

The Enforcement Branch had alleged that irregularities had been committed, including changes in excise policy, granting undue favors to the licensee, waiving or reducing license fees and the extension of the L-1 license without approval. The central agency opened an investigation into the case, under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), after learning of a CBI FIR who named Sisodia and 14 other people in the excise case.

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