A member of the RSS since his teenage days who also calls himself a Bhagat Singh follower, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the BJP leader who was arrested by the Punjab Police on Friday, first came to the limelight when he attacked Prashant Bhushan over a statement made by the lawyer on Kashmir in October 2011.
Bhushan had called for a referendum on Kashmir, sparking a political fight. “If someone says that Kashmir should be given to Pakistan, then people would do the same with him,” he had earlier told The Indian Express.
On Friday, Bagga, who has been targeting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal over his comments on ‘The Kashmir Files, was picked up from his West Delhi residence and later arrested in connection with a case registered on April 1 by the Punjab Police’s Cyber Cell for allegedly making “provocative statements, promoting religious enmity, and criminal intimidation”.
A Delhi BJP spokesperson since 2017, Bagga is national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), BJP’s youth wing. In the last Assembly elections, his name was dropped from the Tilak Nagar seat, from where he sought to contest, but later accommodated from Hari Nagar after the BJP’s alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal broke.
Bagga, who started his political career with a lesser-known outfit, the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (BSKS), has used his Twitter handle, on which he has close to 1 million followers, to constantly attack CM Arvind Kejriwal. He has in the past also called for the boycott of several celebrities, calling them “anti-national” besides trolling them with provocative statements and name-calling.
On March 30, Bagga was part of a protest by BJYM members outside Kejriwal’s official residence during which the gates of the CM house were defaced.
In 2011, Bagga made headlines when he barged into an event at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre and disrupted the launch of author Arundhati Roy’s book, calling her works “anti-Army and pro-Kashmir azaadi”. The following year, he was accused of heckling Syed Ali Shah Geelani at an event organised by the Centre for Study of Developing Studies in Delhi.
His outfit had also defaced walls around the Pakistan High Commission and pasted posters demanding freedom for Balochistan.
Among his other antics include putting up posters with controversial contents, including one in which he called Rajiv Gandhi “the father of mob lynching.”
Bagga runs an online store called ‘T-Shirt Bhaiya’ that sells T-shirts and jewelleries with nationalist slogans. One of the T-shirts sold on the site had an image of the controversial human shield incident in Kashmir in which Major Leetul Gogoi had tied a person to a jeep as a shield against stone-pelters.
Bagga had earlier said in his defence, “I have always taken a stand for the country. I sat on hunger strike for eight days to seek justice for Nirbahaya and did another hunger strike demanding action against the culprits of the 1984 Sikh massacre.”
In 2015, his outfit Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena launched an online news and opinion blog called ‘NaMo Patrika’ dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The same year, he was among the BJP social media influencers who met PM Modi at his official residence. Two years later, he was appointed party’s spokesperson to attract youth ahead of the MCD polls.
Party insiders say Bagga made a splash in party circles when, during the West Bengal elections in May last year, he went to the state and was among the BJP workers who were “arrested” by the state police following clashes between TMC and BJP workers during Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata.
A BJP leader said Bagga’s ability to create a buzz was first noticed by senior central leaders while he was in Varanasi for a month during the BJP’s 2014 campaign. He had then distributed T-shirts to tea sellers with the slogan ‘Why can’t a tea seller be PM’.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he was in charge of MP Parvesh Verma’s campaign in Delhi, and was credited within party circles for devising social media strategies.