Vijay Nair, the former CEO of Only Much Louder—an entertainment and event-management company based in Mumbai—has been working with the Aam Aadmi Party, as it gears up for the forthcoming assembly elections in Delhi. Nair is working as a part-time volunteer of the party and does “ad-hoc work” in social media and organising party events, according to Atishi, a senior AAP leader and spokesperson of the party. Atishi is also the head of the AAP’s internal complaints committee, a statutory body mandated to inquire into any formal complaints of sexual harassment at a workplace. In November last year, The Caravan had published an investigative report on allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against Nair.
Nair stands accused of abetting an environment that perpetuated sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny during his time as the CEO of OML. Based on first-person accounts of women who had worked with him, The Caravan reported that Nair’s position as CEO “allowed him to act brazenly and with impunity.” The article noted, “He asked a woman to get into a bathtub with him and told another at 2 am that he needed a massage. He even sent explicit images—including one in which a man appeared to be ejaculating—to a woman, without her consent.” One woman told The Caravan that Nair engaged in a sexual act during a work call with her without seeking her consent. Several young women who had worked with Nair said that he messaged them regularly and that they were unsure whether they could refuse his advances. In response to the article, Nair and OML had denied any wrongdoing.
I met Nair during a visit to the AAP head office, in mid October. He asked me to direct any queries I had to Atishi. When I spoke with Atishi over the phone, she confirmed that Nair was working with AAP, but denied any knowledge of the allegations against him. After our conversation, I emailed her a link to the investigative report, along with several follow-up queries, seeking her response and inquiring about the party’s stance on the matter. At the time of publishing, she had not responded to my follow-up queries.
It is unclear how long Nair has been working with the AAP or in what capacity. According to Ankit Lal, a national-council member of the AAP who heads its digital campaign, Nair is an old-time associate of the party and has been a volunteer with the AAP for five or six years. He added that Nair is “connected across the industry” and if Lal needed any help on digital strategy, “he is one of the first people I would call.” During our phone conversation, Atishi referred to an “ad-hoc” role but avoided providing any specific details. She mentioned that he works on “social media” and “events.”
Yet, it appears possible that Nair has been engaged with more responsibility than either Atishi or Lal let on. A woman who was approached to work on digital-communication strategy for the election was told that she would have to meet Nair as he was managing communications for the party. “The role that I would have had would have meant that I reported to him,” she said. She said that “a plan was proposed that I come on board with six people.” When she learnt that Nair would head the team, she declined the opportunity. “There was this discomfort because of the allegations,” she said. “My teammates also declined, of their own volition.”