Decision to suspend WFI taken under pressure: Opposition leaders – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Opposition leaders on Sunday said the government’s decision to suspend the newly-elected WFI was not enough to give justice to protesting wrestlers and questioned why a loyalist of former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was allowed to contest the election to the sports body in the first place. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections were held on December 21 with Sanjay Singh and his panel winning the polls by big margins.
The sports ministry on Sunday suspended the WFI till further notice after the wrestling body made a “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.
“By suspending the committee if BJP-led ministry thinks they are absolving themselves from not helping the women wrestlers, they are mistaken,” Sharad Pawar-led NCP’s national spokesperson Clyde Crasto said on X.
He said the ministry’s actions were a “farce”.
“Medal surrendered by Shakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia has mounted pressure on the Sports Ministry to suspend the recently held WFI election, its welcome but justice has not meted out to the victims,” Congress leader Udit Raj said in a post on X.
Congress leader Ranjeet Ranjan questioned Sanjay Singh’s election when he was commonly known to be the “right-hand man” of the former WFI chief, against whom wrestlers made complaints of sexual harassment.
“All the players who made the complaint of sexual harassment knew he is Brij Bhushan Singh’s right-hand man. Was the government sleeping?” Ranjan said.
“We can say this is the height of autocracy and an extreme insult to the sportspersons. Our players get medals for us and we can’t even ensure their safety,” she said.
Samajwadi Party leader Fakhrul Hasan Chaand alleged the BJP is trying to divert attention from the outrage that was caused by the election of Brij Bhushan’s loyalists.
“The issue is still there as the BJP is merely diverting people’s attention by suspending the WFI body when there is outrage among the women and athletes,” he said.
BRS leader K Kavitha, meanwhile, welcomed the decision.
“I welcome the Union Government’s decision of suspending the Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) newly elected body,” she said in a post on X.
“Our wrestlers have brought pride to us, many women could dream of representing India on the global stage. They deserve a fair and transparent system. May this decision pave the way for a stronger future for Indian wrestling,” she said.
The ministry also said on Sunday that the new body was working under the “complete control of former (WFI) office-bearers”, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh later said he has “taken retirement” from the sport and the newly-elected body will now take charge as he has many more responsibilities to look into, including next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
His comments came soon after his meeting with BJP chief JP Nadda following WFI’s suspension by the Sports Ministry.
Several top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan and the case is being heard in the Delhi High Court. The former WFI chief has denied the allegations against him and claimed that he was being targeted under a conspiracy by Congress leaders.
On Thursday, Sakshi Malik announced her retirement at a press conference in Delhi in protest against Sanjay Singh’s election.


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