Mapping the Rise of Tajinder Bagga, BJP’s Hari Nagar Candidate
In 2011, Bagga had led a brutal attack on senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, inside the latter’s chamber.
A Swayam Sevak, an Art of Living follower and a Bhagat Singh bhakt – BJP Spokesperson Tajinder Bagga has been named the party's candidate for Hari Nagar Assembly seat for the upcoming elections to the Delhi Assembly. But who is Bagga and how did he rise to prominence?
Step 1: Bash Someone Up and Make It to Arnab’s 9 PM Debate
He’s also the man who launched ‘Operation Prashant Bhushan’ in October 2011. It entailed barging into the lawyer-activist’s Supreme Court chambers, slapping and punching the lawyer in the face, pinning him to the ground, repeatedly kicking him in the face and chest, and tearing his shirt while abusing him for his “separatist” remarks.
One of the core members of Team Anna, Bhushan had called for a referendum on Kashmir, sparking a political fight between the Congress and the BJP, with each accusing Team Anna of being the other’s “B-team”.
An outfit called the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena claimed credit for the attack that was inadvertently streamed live on a TV channel that was interviewing Bhushan at the time.
Step 2: Become a Social Media Influencer
The head of the outfit, Tajinder Pal Bagga, tweeted – “he try to break my Nation, i try to break his head. Hisab chukta. Congrats to all. operation Prashant Bhushan successful [sic].”
Since then, Bagga has amassed 197K followers on Twitter.
In 2015, he was among the #Super150 – a group of social media influencers greeted by Modi at 7 RCR on the sidelines of the Digital India launch in July 2015.
Larry Price, who documented Modi’s 2014 election campaign in his book ‘The Modi Effect’, quotes Bagga on his efforts to make Modi more relatable to the youth.
Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga had represented the party’s youth wing on the BJP national executive for four years when he decided more should be done to make politics, and Modi in particular, more attractive to younger voters. “If you see the scenario two years back,” he told me, “When you spoke with the youth, they would say ‘I am not interested, everybody is a thief’. But they saw a ray of hope in Modi.” Having watched Bruce Springsteen perform for Barack Obama, he and some friends staged a small rock concert. Concerts need t-shirts and these too, were a deliberate attempt to co-opt the Obama campaign, although with a very Indian twist. ‘We launched T-shirts because there were many people blaming Modi for the 2002 riots,’ said Bagga. “The first T-shirt was a quote from Modi, ‘India First is my definition of Secularism’. And the second T-shirt had Modi’s face with the tagline, ‘Face of Development’.”
Step 3: Hunt and Harass “Anti-Nationals”
Over the six years since then, the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena has orchestrated a number of altercations: They barged into an event to launch Arundhati Roy’s ‘Broken Republic’, calling her essays “anti-Indian Army and pro-Kashmir azaadi”; they heckled Syed Ali Shah Geelani at an event organised by the Centre for Study of Developing Studies in Delhi; the fringe group also locked the Jammu & Kashmir House in Delhi to demand the Amarnath Yatra be extended by 120 days; and they disrupted a rally organised by the Popular Front of India “because they perpetrate love jihad.”
Step 4: Don’t Forget to Call a TV News Crew
Bagga rose from a fringe group element known for threatening violence against voices of dissent to a mainstream face of Delhi’s BJP unit. He was known to make phone calls to TV news journalists, informing them well in advance about his intent to disrupt and assault in order to get coverage.
Step 4: Some Crowd Pleasing
Bagga is also the editor of NaMo Patrika – an online portal started by the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena to highlight schemes and initiatives launched by the Modi government.
Bagga’s proximity to the RSS and several BJP leaders is being seen as the reason for his elevation to the post of Delhi spokesperson. His profile could be useful to the party in attracting the youth and the Sikh vote in the MCD elections to be held on 22 April.
Step 5: Spreading Fake News
In the wake of CAA protests in Mumbai, Bagga on 5 January, posted a video on Twitter, claiming that “Muslim and Leftists students in Mumbai again Raised Slogans ‘Hinduo se Aazadi’”.
The protest that took place outside the Gateway of India in South Mumbai, was led by former JNU student Umar Khalid.
However, Bagga’s claim was found to be false by The Quint, which compared the 18-second clip posted by Bagga with a Facebook live, from which it was taken.
The Quint found that Khalid, in his slogans, had asked for freedom from NPR, CAA, casteism, Manuvaad, Sanghvaad, RSS Bhagwat and from Modi and not from Hindus, as claimed by Bagga.
(With inputs from Aviral Virk)
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