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Amid WFI Row, Rahul Gandhi Hits An Akhara in Haryana's Jhajjar, Seen in Action With Bajrang Punia  

Bajrang Punia said that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi came to see their wrestling routine and also tried wrestling

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited an akhara in Haryana's Jhajjar
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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited Virender Arya Akhara in Chhara village of Haryana's Jhajjar district on Wednesday morning and interacted with wrestlers, including Olympian Bajrang Punia.

The Congress MP shared snippets on microblogging platform X from his akhara visit in which he could be seen in action with the Bajrang Punia, surrounded by other wrestlers.

Sharing the pictures, Rahul Gandhi wrote on X, "After irrigating the soil with his blood and sweat along with years of hard work, patience and unmatched discipline, a player brings a medal for his country... Today, at brother Virendra Arya's akhara in Chhara village of Jhajjar, held discussions with Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia and other wrestler brothers."

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"There is only one question - if these players, the daughters of India, have to leave the fight in their arena and fight for their rights and justice on the streets, then who will encourage their children to choose this path?" Gandhi wrote in his post on X in Hindi.

Rahul Gandhi's visit comes amid the wresters vs Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) protest which has been going on for a year now but reignited after former wrestling body chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's close associate Sanjay Singh won the election for the post of WFI president last week, an outcome which was met by tears and outrage by country's top athletes.

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Sanjay Singh, a loyalist of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who the athletes have accused of sexually exploiting women wrestlers, won the WFI election last week, prompting Olympian Sakshee Malikkh to announce exit from the sport in protest against the same, following which Bajrang Punia returning his Padma Shri.

After a teary-eyed Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sakshee Malikkh put her wrestling shoes on the table on December 21 and announced her retirement from the sport, Bajrang Punia on December 22 kept his Padma Shri outside PM residence as a mark of protest against the victory of Sanjay Singh

Vinesh Phogat also followed suit and decided to return her Khel Ratna and Arjuna award to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, December 26, saying such honours have become meaningless when wrestlers are struggling badly for justice, aggravating the crisis that has gripped the sport. Phogat, the two-time World Championship medal winner, announced her decision in her letter penned for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking on the row and on Rahul Gandhi's akhara visit, Wrestling Coach Virendra Arya said on Wednesday that there is very little that the Congress leader can do, adding that it is the government only that can do something. 

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"Nobody told us that he's coming. We were practicing here and he came all of a sudden...He reached here around 6:15 am...He did exercise with us and then he told us about his exercise and sport. He has a lot of knowledge about sports...Nationals will take place but what would be done with this issue at hand?... What could he (Rahul Gandhi) do, only the government can do something," Arya said.

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