Wrestling Elections: Brij Bhushan Remains Brazen, Tearful Sakshi Malik Quits Sport
New Delhi, (IANS) – In the aftermath of Sanjay Singh’s resounding victory in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections, a seismic shift echoed through the Indian wrestling community.
Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik on December 21 said she would not be competing in wrestling anymore following his victory. Sakshi removed her shoes and put them on the dais before leaving the press conference in tears.
“I am dejected, and I will not be competing in wrestling anymore,” an emotional Sakshi said.
Sanjay is a close aide of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who was deposed following a lengthy agitation by a group of grapplers led by Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi and Vinesh Phogat.
The Modi government which often monitors sports bodies continues to remain silent as women wrestlers agitate and India has lost a medal winning star from the sport.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, ex-WFI President and fomer BJP MP who has been accused of sexual harassment by prominent Indian wrestlers, stood firm in his assertion that “dabdabad to rahega”.
Sanjay Singh’s triumph with 40 out of 47 votes, defeating Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Anita Sheoran, sparked controversy. Wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and Vinesh Phogat, who had fervently protested against Brij Bhushan, rallied behind Sheoran. Despite their efforts, Singh’s win signaled a continuation of the existing leadership.
Brij Bhushan, unfazed by the allegations against him, proclaimed the victory as a triumph for the country’s wrestlers. He expressed hope that the wrestling activities, halted for 11 months during the protests, would now resume under the new leadership.
“A message has been given. Every akhaada (wrestling academy) in the country is bursting with firecrackers. Dabdabaa tha, dabdabaa rahega! I want to give the credit of victory to the wrestlers of the country and the electors. I want to thank the government as well. The elections were done on the instructions of the Supreme Court… the Centre went ahead to make sure elections happened and a non-partisan person was chosen as president,” Brij Bhushan said.
The wrestling community now grapples not only with the implications of the election but also with the departure of a celebrated athlete, signaling a challenging chapter for the future of Indian wrestling.