Rajat Sharma


AKB30 The sheer arrogance of former Wrestling Federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, displayed brazenly after the election of his acolytes in WFI elections, was nowhere to be seen after he reportedly got a severe dressing-down from BJP president J P Nadda on Sunday. Reports say, Nadda, on getting directive from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, summoned Singh and demanded to know why he was interfering in WFI activity, despite promising to stay away. Nadda reportedly asked him bluntly why he played an active role in WFI office-bearer elections, by reneging on his promise, and why after the results were out, he publicly bragged about his ‘dabdaba’ (dominance) in Indian wrestling. Reports say, Brij Bhushan had no cogent reply to give. Nadda reportedly told him that his interference in Indian wrestling would no longer be tolerated and he must stay away from Wrestling Federation of India. Singh was reportedly warned that if he again reneged on his promise, the party would take action against him. Already, the Sports Ministry has suspended the newly elected WFI body, and has asked the Indian Olympic Association to set up an ad hoc committee to manage and execute the roles and functions of WFI. The newly elected WFI body, packed with Singh’s acolytes, had announced holding of Under-15 and Under-20 nationals in Singh’s hometown, and this was ticked off by the Sports Ministry as a step taken “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations. On Sunday, posters praising Singh at his residence were hurriedly pulled down. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said, “I have now retired (from wrestling). I have a lot of other work to do like (Lok Sabha) elections. ..I have nothing to do with wrestling federation now … the issue of WFI is a matter to be sorted out between the office-bearers and the government.” Singh admitted that some of the ‘dabdaba’ posters displayed at his residence smacked of “arrogance”. The former WFI chief appears to have reconciled himself to the fact that his innings in wrestling federation is over, and if he still insisted on his ‘dabdaba’, his political future was bound to take a low dip. I am happy that the Prime Minister took action within 48 hours and showed Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh his place. In one single stroke, he ended Singh’s tight grip over Indian wrestling. The message has gone out that Brij Bhushan’s ‘dabdaba’ (dominance) over Indian wrestling is now over and the brave champion daughters of Indian wrestling will now get their due. The wrestlers have been given the message that the tears of medal winners Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, and the struggle of Bajrang Punia will not go waste. Brij Bhushan was under the illusion that any action taken against him could adversely affect BJP’s chances in four to five Lok Sabha constituencies in eastern UP. Already, general elections are due any time and Singh was smug in his belief that nobody would dare take action against him. Singh has now got the right message that J P Nadda is not a party president who will wilt in the face of threats. It is true that an atmosphere of despondence and sadness had descended on Indian wrestling after people watched a weeping Sakshi Malik announcing her retirement when the former WFI chief bragged about his ‘dabdaba’. When Bajrang Punia decided to return his Padma Shri to the Prime Minister, it was a decision taken in desperation. The tables were turned on Singh when the Sports Ministry suspended all activities of the newly elected WFI body and Nadda put the leash on Brij Bhushan. These measures have instilled trust and confidence among the Indian wrestlers. However, Sanjay Singh, who has been elected WFI president, and is now suspended, continues to be Singh’s acolyte. He is still trying to regain lost ground. Sanjay Singh at times claims he is not Brij Bhushan’s relative, and sometimes he threatens to go to court against the Sports Ministry order. One needs to be on alert. Freeing the Wrestling Federation from the clutches of ‘dabang’ (strongmen) is not an easy job. It is all the more difficult to instil trust in the minds of our brave daughters who want to make a mark in the field of world wrestling. Prime Minister Modi has provided a ray of hope. We should hope that the wrestlers might not have to hit the roads again to demand their rights. Vinesh, Sakshi and Bajrang have shown courage and took risks. I hope they will not have to seek the help of politicians again. The more Indian wrestling sport is kept away from politics, the better. My fulsome praise are for those women wrestlers, who had the courage to go to the police and file their complaints against Brij Bhushan. They remained steadfast despite all sorts of pressures and threats. It is because of their perseverance and courage that Brij Bhushan had to bid goodbye to wrestling. I hope the struggle of our champion daughters will surely reach a decisive conclusion.

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