The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) list of candidates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections included Malegaon terror accused Pragya Thakur, who is now an MP from Bhopal. In its first list of candidates for the upcoming Delhi elections, the party included former AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who shouted incendiary slogans during pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rallies. So it’s no surprise that the party’s second and final list for the Delhi assembly election includes Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the controversial party spokesperson.
The party’s list of 10 candidates, released around midnight, shows that Bagga has been fielded from Hari Nagar. Soon, Bagga, who has almost 650,000 followers on Twitter, launched a rap song for his campaign and #Bagga4HariNagar began trending.
Often branded a “troll”, he was appointed as a spokesperson by Delhi BJP in 2017. As Scroll noted then, Bagga’s rise “from a notorious troll to the spokesperson of the party ruling the Union government is a good indication of the importance the BJP places on social media”.
In a 2017 interview with Caravan, Bagga claimed that he does not even know the definition of trolling, but added that “it should not be abusive”.
While Bagga is often at the centre of controversy, here are some of the most notable incidents that have catapulted him to fame:
1. Bagga first came to the limelight in 2011 after an assault on lawyer Prashant Bhushan in his chambers over his statement on Kashmir. Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, a group founded by Bagga, had claimed responsibility for the attack. A Times Now video of the assault shows Bagga saying that a Supreme Court lawyer “is not bigger than the nation”.
After the incident, Bagga also tweeted, “He try to break my nation, i try to break his head (sic)”, but later deleted the tweet and maintained he was accused without evidence.
“You can see the video; I am not in the video. Just because I was part of that organisation [the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena], I have been targeted,” he told The Caravan.
2. In 2011, he disrupted a launch event for author Arundhati Roy’s book at the India Habitat Centre. After being appointed the Delhi BJP spokesperson, Bagga told Caravan he was “merely exercising” his “democratic right to protest”. Years after the incident, he tweeted this photo:
3. Bagga’s online business outlet sold T-shirts depicting the controversial human shield incident in Kashmir, where Farooq Ahmad Dar, an artisan who was returning from voting in a bypoll, was tied to the front of a jeep, purportedly as a shield against stone-pelters by Major Leetul Gogoi.
After Dar filed a defamation case against him, Bagga justified the use of the picture and told Al-Jazeera that “it is a tribute to the army officer’s heroic act”.
4. Earlier this month, Bagga tweeted a video of a protest at the Gateway of India in Mumbai against the attack on JNU students. He said, “Muslim and Leftists students in Mumbai again Raised Slogans “Hinduo se Aazadi” but this time not in Jamia or JNU , they raised Hinduo se Aazadi Slogans at Gateway of India Mumbai”.
When challenged by actor Konkona Sen Sharma, who was present at the protest, Bagga said he would leave politics if it could be proved that the video was doctored.
Alt News pointed out that Bagga’s claim that protesters shouted this slogan was completely false. Activist Umar Khalid also accused Bagga of spreading lies.
Though he was called out for spreading blatant lies against anti-CAA protesters, Bagga hasn’t kept his promise. Not only is he still in politics, he has now been rewarded with an election ticket as well.