Adding to the trails of troubles of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday arrested Vijay Nair, the communication-in-charge of the party for his alleged role in the irregularities pertaining to the now scrapped excise policy of the Delhi Government. Nair, the former CEO of an event management company Only Much Louder, was called by the CBI for enquiry and was taken into custody. The FIR filed by the CBI on the instructions of LG Vijay Saxena contains 15 names including that of Nair and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Reacting strongly to the arrest, the AAP said that it was anticipated as Nair was continuously forced to name Sisodia or to face the consequences.
The official statement of AAP said, “Vijay Nair was called for questioning over the last few days and was pressured to take the name of Manish Sisodia. When he refused to do that, he was threatened with arrest. His house was raided twice in the last one month but nothing was found. This is a part of ongoing BJP’s attempt to crush AAP and obstruct AAP’s Gujarat campaign. The whole country is watching how BJP is completely rattled by AAP’s growing popularity across India. BJP is unable to digest the rapidly growing vote share of AAP in Gujarat. We strongly condemn these unconstitutional and illegal methods being adopted by BJP. All allegations against Vijay Nair and AAP leaders are false and completely baseless.”
In a parallel development Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday also arrested Delhi-based liquor baron Sameer Mahendru in relation to the case. It is learnt that Mahendru has been taken into custody under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). As per the FIR of CBI, Arjun Pandey, a close aid of Sisodia allegedly collected around Rs 2-4 crores from Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair.
Who is Vijay Nair?
Vijay Nair was the CEO of Only Much Louder (OML), an event company that used to organise music festivals and big-ticket shows. Besides, he was also director of six other companies namely OML Entertainment Private Limited, Wasteland Entertainment Private Limited, Only Much Louder Event Management Private Limited, Motherswear Entertainment Private Limited, Bebblefish Productions Private Limited and OML Digital Production Private Limited. In 2017, just one year prior to the allegations of sexual misconduct against him he left OML and fully joined AAP.
His journey with the AAP started as a social media volunteer and fundraiser during 2013-2014. As per media reports, he never wanted to be in the limelight, rather he preferred to work from behind the scene.
However, during 2019 his role changed and he became the sole manager of AAP’s campaign. He was majorly behind party’s strategies of Punjab and after his success both in Delhi and Punjab, he started indulging into the policy matters as well.
Why is Nair’s arrest important ahead of Gujarat polls?
Being a subtle player, he was not even mentioned by the senior leaders. While giving an interview in the backdrop of the CBI raids on liquor excise policy, Sisodia said, “It is not about Vijay Nair. Their intent is to jail all the people associated with Kejriwal.”
Though his association with the party has hardly come to the fore, this time AAP’s statement clarifies his relevance. Alleging that it is the BJP’s strategy to destabilise the Gujarat campaign of the party, the statement noted, “Vijay Nair is the communication in-charge of AAP. He was responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies in Punjab earlier and Gujarat now. He has nothing to do with the excise policy.”
Delinking Nair from the excise policy Kejriwal said, “They arrested Vijay Nair yesterday. Who is Vijay Nair? AAP ka chhota sa karyakarta hai. He handles communication for us. Earlier, he did great work in Punjab and we formed the government there. Now, he is handling the communication strategy in Gujarat. He was handling social media outreach in Gujarat. They are saying he was involved in a liquor scam in Delhi. I don’t understand how he is linked to liquor or a liquor scam. He looks at social media in Gujarat. He is just a party worker.”
The AAP has been eying on Gujarat polls for the last few months. Kejriwal’s strategy to connect to the people through getting on an auto or meeting sanitation worker are, as sources claimed, part of Nair’s strategy.
BJP’s reaction over Nair’s arrests
Mincing no words against Nair, who is also the first person to be arrested among the 15 people named in the CBI FIR, Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said, “The arrest of close aide of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Liquor Mafia Vijay Nair has vindicated Delhi BJP’s stand that Liquor Mafia and Delhi Government have committed a Liquor Excise Scam in Delhi in connivance. All through last one month Team Kejriwal has been saying there is no Liquor Scam and CBI has got no evidence of scam. With Nair’s arrest it’s clear that CBI was silently but swiftly gathering evidence. Today it is Nair, soon we may see Deputy CM Manish Sisodia behind bars.”
Taking dig at Nair’s past, Amit Malvya, the BJP leader and communication-in-charge tweeted, “Vijay Nair, a sexual predator, close to Arvind Kejriwal and several top editors/media professionals, who he called routinely to strike deals and deliver expensive gifts in return for favours, has been arrested by the CBI in the Delhi Liquor Excise scam.”
Vijay Nair, a sexual predator, close to Arvind Kejriwal and several top editors/media professionals, who he called routinely to strike deals and deliver expensive gifts in return for favours, has been arrested by the CBI in the Delhi Liquor Excise scam. https://t.co/Kqg8zLMxTt— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) September 27, 2022
BJP-AAP spat has been getting worse over the months as both the Gujarat assembly elections and the MCD elections are just few months away. While in Gujarat, BJP has to fight anti-incumbency factor, in MCD the ruling party will confront developmental politics and popularity of Kejriwal.
However, Nair’s arrests coming just hours after Delhi HC’s instruction to the AAP leaders to withdraw their defaming social media posts against LG Saxena, gave a shot in the arm to the later who had ordered the CBI to investigate Delhi government’s new excise policy.