In Wrestling Body Polls, Ex Chief’s Aide Beats Protesting Wrestlers’ Pick

New Delhi:

A close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, BJP MP and former chief of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), who came under fire for sexual harassment allegations, was today elected the new president of the wrestling body. 

Sanjay Singh won 40 out of 47 votes in a sweeping victory over Anita Sheoran, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who was backed by top wrestlers who had taken to the streets earlier this over sexual harassment allegations against Mr Singh, a six-time MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj who has led the wrestling body for 12 years.

Sanjay Singh has earlier served as vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh wrestling body. He was part of the WFI’s last executive council and its joint secretary since 2019.

In another significant development, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, who was in the race for the vice-president post, lost the election.

Besides the top post of president, election were held to fill up posts for a senior vice-president, four vice-presidents, a secretary general, a treasurer, two joint secretaries and five executive members.

Ace wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, who led the agitation against Mr Singh, had been promised that none of his family members or aides will be allowed to contest the elections. So, Brij Bhushan’s son Prateek and son-in-law Vishal Singh did not enter the race, but his aide Sanjay Singh’s nomination was cleared.

The process for the WFI election began in July, but court cases kept delaying it. This led to the international wrestling body suspending WFI. The Supreme Court recently set aside a stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, clearing the decks for the polls.

Amid the celebrations after his win, Mr Singh termed it a “very big victory of truth over lies”. “They levelled such allegations against a person whose character does not have a place for those tendencies,” he said.

On a question on whether he is close to the BJP MP, Sanjay Singh said, “Of course, no doubt I am close to him.” Asked about concerns of a section of wrestlers about how the federation would function now, he said, “There will be no injustice against any woman wrestler.”

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Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, BJP MP and former chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), has been elected as the new president of the wrestling body. Sanjay Singh won 40 out of 47 votes in a sweeping victory over Anita Sheoran, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who was backed by top wrestlers who had protested against sexual harassment allegations against Brij Bhushan Singh. Brij Bhushan Singh, who has led the wrestling body for 12 years, faced allegations of sexual harassment and was criticized by prominent wrestlers. Sanjay Singh, who previously served as vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh wrestling body, was a joint secretary of the WFI since 2019. The election also saw Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav losing in the race for the vice-president post. The process for the WFI election faced delays due to court cases, leading to the suspension of the federation by the international wrestling body. However, the Supreme Court recently cleared the way for the elections by setting aside a stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Sanjay Singh celebrated his victory as a triumph of truth over lies and assured that there would be no injustice against any woman wrestler in the federation.

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