Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik on Monday requested Sports Minister Anurag Thakur to ensure that Sanjay Singh does not contest for the post of WFI President since he is a close associate of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassing women wrestlers. (More Sports News)
The much-awaited Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections are scheduled to be held on December 21 and the results will be declared the same day.
Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi had spearheaded the protest against Brij Bhushan, accusing the BJP MP of sexual harassment of several women wrestlers, including juniors. A Delhi court is hearing the matter.
Tokyo Games bronze medallist Bajrang said they withdrew their protest after the government assured that no one related to Brij Bhushan will contest the polls.
Two candidates -- Brij Bhushan-loyalist Sanjay Singh and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anita Sheoran are in the running for the WFI president's post.
"Yes, we met with the sports minister today and reminded him of his promise that no one related to Brij Bhushan should contest the WFI elections," Bajrang told PTI.
"Sanjay Singh is his close associate and he should withdraw from the elections or otherwise we will decide our future course of action soon. We told that to the minister," said Bajrang.
Sanjay, who is a Brij Bhushan loyalist, was part of the WFI’s last executive council. He was also the national federation’s joint secretary since 2019.
Bajrang also said that they have no issues with Sheoran as she is a former wrestler and is very well aware about the plight of the athletes.
"We want some former wrestler to take the charge of WFI, who at least knows what it takes to win medals for the country. Anita ji (Sheoren) is a Commonwealth Games medallist and understands the demands of wrestlers," he said.
Anita, who is in the running to become the first woman president of the WFI is also reportedly a witness in the sexual harassment cases filed against Brij Bhushan.
Brij Bhushan is currently out on bail. He is not eligible to contest in the WFI elections as has completed 12 years as an office-bearer, which is the maximum term allowed as per the National Sports Code.
He also assured that no one from his family would contest the polls. Accordingly, Brij Bhushan, who is the president of the Uttar Pradesh wrestling body, and his son Karan, who is a vice-president in the same state body, will not compete in the elections.
Brij Bhushan's son-in-law Vishal Singh, president of the Bihar Wrestling Federation, is also not contesting the elections.
A source in the WFI said it's not a surprise that efforts are still being made to influence the elections.
"You can see for yourself that there are efforts to influence polls. But we are confident that better sense will prevail," said a WFI source.
"Sanjay is eligible to contest and that's why the returning officer cleared his name for election. Why should anyone object to his nomination," the former WFI official said.