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Why Tajinder Pal Bagga's ghar-wapsi says he was a BJP vigilante all along

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 15 March 2017, 17:25 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

Guess who's getting a glut of congratulations from Union ministers on Twitter today?

Given their enthusiasm, you would think their messages would be intended for Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah for the party's landslide victory in UP. Ignore your instinct this time and take a close look.

Union ministers like Suresh Prabhu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Vijay Goel and Giriraj Singh are congratulating the newly-appointed spokesperson of the BJP's Delhi unit, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga.

Bagga was appointed spokesperson on 14 March by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, himself new to that post.

Following the announcement, Bagga has been receiving congratulatory messages from admirers and rivals alike. Tweets from Congress's Priyanka Chaturvedi and pro-Congress commentator Tehseen Poonawalla can also be seen on Bagga's timeline. But the ministers definitely fall under the admirer, maybe even patron, category.

Others in this category include BJP MPs Maheish Girri, Swapan Dasgupta, Darshana Jardosh, former MP Tarun Vijay, well-known voice in right-wing circles Kanchan Gupta and, hold your breath, senior journalist Chitra Subramaniam, once known as the scribe who broke the Bofors scam. 

Bagga's multiple assaults

Looking at all this love that BJP leaders are showering upon Bagga, it will be hard to remember that this is the same gentleman whom the BJP had nearly disowned, not too long ago. On 12 October 2011, Bagga and two other men had beaten up senior advocate Prashant Bhushan in the latter's chambers at the Supreme Court.

All three were then members of a vigilante group they had created, called the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena.

They roughed up Bhushan over what they thought were his 'anti-national' comments regarding Kashmir. “He try to break my Nation, I try to break his head [sic],” Bagga had proudly tweeted then.

The trio was eventually arrested and remanded to judicial custody for a day. Bagga had earlier been involved in similar attacks on author Arundhati Roy and Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

It is not clear which of these developments the BJP now considers an achievement worthy of being rewarded with the spokesmanship of the party. But six years ago, both the party and Bagga had distanced themselves from each other.

Bagga had then told a TV channel that he had no links with the BJP 'now', but “used to be their member once upon a time”.

Senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh had refuted this claim and condemned the attack on Bhushan.

For Bagga, official membership of BJP appears to be either a fluid or a redundant concept. He boasts of old connections with the party and claims that he was the youngest-ever member of the party's National Executive. His Twitter display pic shows him in the company of Narendra Modi himself, with the PM looking benevolently at him, like he would at any loyal foot soldier of the party.

Twitter

In his Facebook profile display picture, Bagga is standing next to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He claims it is a picture from 2008.

Facebook

There is another picture of a young Bagga with Vajpayee and Goel, on Twitter.

Goel's reply to that tweet recalls the picture as a part of his 'golden memories'.

Bagga's constant linkages with the BJP are undeniable, and the party has now openly admitted him as its own.

Prashant Bhushan has called him a 'thug' and has accused BJP of promoting 'lumpen' elements like him.

The question that BJP may like to answer now is that does Home Minister Rajnath Singh's condemnation of Bagga's attack on Bhushan still hold? Or is 'thuggery' too a fluid concept for the party, much like its membership is for Bagga himself?

First published: 15 March 2017, 17:25 IST
 
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.

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