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Wrestling Federation of India elections: Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist Sanjay Kumar Singh confident of winning

On the eve of the delayed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections, Uttar Pradesh Wrestling Association vice-president Sanjay Kumar Singh said he was confident of bagging 42 of the 50 votes and would ensure the ‘glory days’ of the sport returned.

Sanjay Kumar is a loyalist of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing president who is accused of sexual harassment. He is pitted against former Commonwealth Games gold medalist grappler Anita Sheoran, who is backed by the wrestlers who accused Brij Bhushan of harassment and sat in protest demanding his arrest.

“I am confident of becoming the president of the WFI because I have the support of at least 42 of the 50 members of the electoral college. My panel will sweep the elections. Those who have the best interest of the sport at heart will vote for me. What happened over the past year (wrestlers’ protest) has hurt the sport. I will ensure that no further damage is done,” Sanjay Kumar told this paper.

Also Read | ‘If Brij Bhushan’s loyalists contest and win, there won’t be any reforms in the Wrestling federation’ – WFI president election candidate Anita Sheoran

Brij Bhushan, a BJP MP from Kaiserganj, was found liable for prosecution for sexual harassment, molestation and stalking of women wrestlers in the chargesheet of Delhi Police.

Anita, a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, is a witness and a corroborator in the case against him. She is backed by Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik as well as World Championship medalist Vinesh Phogat. They are the key wrestlers leading the protest demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan.

Festive offer

Last week, Bajrang and Sakshi met sports minister Anurag Thakur. It is learnt that the wrestlers wanted Sanjay Kumar to withdraw from the race.

However, Sanjay Kumar said that there was no question of him pulling out because he was eligible to stand for elections. “Nobody should interfere with elections of a federation if it is happening in a democratic manner. Till now, nobody has asked me to withdraw my name. I have been associated with the Wrestling Federation of India for nearly 12 years. I want to work hard to ensure that the WFI returns to the heights, which our parliamentarian-president (Brij Bhushan) had taken it to,” Sanjay Kumar, who is from Varanasi, said.

On top of Sanjay Singh’s priority list is to hold the nationals for Under-20 and Under-15 wrestlers. “The junior nationals will be held before December 31 this year. After that we will conduct the AGM and come up with major plans,” Sanjay Kumar added.

Also Read | Supreme Court gives green signal to Wrestling Federation of India to conduct elections

Elections will be held for 15 posts on Thursday at the Indian Olympic Association headquarters in the capital. Five executive committee members, four vice-presidents, two joint secretaries, a treasurer, a secretary-general, a senior vice-president and a president will be elected.

Bajrang, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh had agreed to call off their protest in June after a meeting with the sports minister Anurag Thakur. They were told they would have a say in who would occupy the key posts of president, general secretary and treasurer. None of Brij Bhushan’s family members would also be allowed to contest the elections, the wrestlers were promised.

Speaking to this paper earlier this week, Anita said if Sanjay Kumar wins then Brij Bhushan would continue to have a say in how the WFI functions and women wrestlers would not feel safe.

Also Read | Asking for physical relations amounts to knowingly outraging modesty: Prosecution in Brij Bhushan case

“Nobody close to Brij Bhushan should be contesting these elections. If Brij Bhushan’s loyalists contest and win, there won’t be any reforms in the Wrestling federation. Brij Bhushan still has a strong grip over the WFI. Everyone knows that the person I am contesting against is close to Brij Bhushan. If women wrestlers are to feel safe, WFI needs a proper cleanup. If the elections don’t bring about change then what is the point,” Anita had said.

The elections were to happen in August but were delayed because of court cases. For failing to hold elections on time, the world body, United World Wrestling, had suspended the WFI. Earlier this month the Supreme Court set aside the stay on the elections imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

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