Indian Wrestlers Demand Action Against Sexual Harassment, Raise Concerns Over Safety Of Accusers
While pressure is growing on the BJP to take action against its Kaiserganj MP and Wrestling Federation of India president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, over allegations of sexual exploitation and harassment of wrestlers, the party has held out for four months. And, it might not proceed against him in a hurry anytime soon.
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1991, the 66-year-old or his wife have been an MP from Uttar Pradesh almost ever since. In 1996, when Singh was denied a ticket after he was indicted in a TADA case for allegedly harbouring associates of Dawood Ibrahim, his wife Kektidevi Singh was fielded by the BJP from Gonda and won. In 1998, Singh suffered a rare poll loss, to the Samajwadi Party’s Kirtivardhan Singh, from Gonda.
Apart from his impressive poll influence, Singh wields clout via a chain of nearly 50 educational institutions run by him, spread across a 100-km belt from Ayodhya till Shravasti. In his wake, his relatives have also established such institutions, and local BJP sources say that Singh’s poll machinery is run almost entirely by this set-up, independent of the party.
They give the example of 2009, when Singh, sensing the dwindling fortunes of the BJP, switched to the SP, and won defeating a BJP candidate, from Kaiserganj. The 2009 elections at the Centre were won by the UPA, with the SP as an ally. Singh announced this decision during the nuclear deal debate in July 2008, at the time as a BJP MP.
Singh’s ties to the Sangh Parivar go back to before he joined the BJP. Considered close to the late VHP chief Ashok Singhal, Singh, who had studied at Ayodhya and was involved in student politics, was at the temple town when the Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992, and was booked along with others for “provoking” kar sevaks to demolish the structure. By then, Singh had already won his first election as a BJP candidate.
Singh’s other love also developed during his Ayodhya days, as he learnt wrestling at an akhara near Hanuman Garhi.
Singh has largely kept a low profile since the wrestlers began their latest protest. In his first statement, he said Thursday: “The day I feel my capacity to struggle has ended… I would embrace death.”
The principal of one of the colleges run by him said Singh’s role can’t be ignored. “He has brought education to Gonda, Behraich, Shravasti and Balrampur, which were educationally backward districts till the early Nineties. Wherever he felt were no colleges, he established one.”
Sources said that recently, Singh’s relations with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have deteriorated. As Adityanath courts an image as the Hindutva face of the party, there is a clash of interests between the two in the Ayodhya region, while Singh’s direct link to top leaders in the party has led to ego tensions…