Hours after sports minister Anurag Thakur said Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will “step aside from day-to-day activity” as WFI president for four weeks owing to an inquiry, the BJP MP occupied pride of place at a national-level wrestling event in Gonda on Saturday. The wrestling body said Singh was “neither suspended not terminated”.
Singh was welcomed as the “chief guest” during the inauguration of the three-day Senior National Open Ranking Wrestling Tournament organised by Indian Wrestling Association at Gonda, with posters at the venue prominently carrying his picture. Making a grand entry, he was heard saying he was there to “get wrestling done” and sat on the stage. He was addressed as the president of Wrestling Federation of India and a BJP MP from the stage, and he even tagged the sports minister in pictures of the event that he posted on Facebook.
Singh has called an annual general meeting of WFI in Ayodhya from Monday. A senior central government functionary told News18 that the wrestling body chief should have avoided chairing the event in Gonda, while Vinod Tomar, assistant secretary of WFI, said Singh was a president who was neither a suspended president nor a terminated one.
“He is still the president… who is relinquishing his duties until the probe is completed,” Tomar said. “He will come to the AGM to inform delegates about his decision to abstain from work due to the inquiry.”
He added that Singh will not be chairing the WFI AGM and not be a signatory, and will not sign any cheques or certificates.
“Till late evening today, met thousands of female and male players from many states including Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, SSB, UP and congratulated them for their efficient and future success,” Singh said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
According to local reports, meanwhile, numerous wrestlers who had turned up for the event returned to their home states from Gonda before the event began given the protest by their counterparts at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Many said they stood in solidarity with their Haryana colleagues.
Singh has maintained that the central government cannot remove him as WFI president as he is an elected head of an autonomous organisation, and only the Wrestling Federation Board can make such a decision.
Tomar further said in a reply to the sports ministry, WFI has categorically denied charges of sexual harassment. “We have also replied on questions of federation management and work,” he told News18.
He added: “Almost all the federations are with us; 26 different federations are part of WFI. What these representatives have to say will be clear at the AGM, but in conversations, so far, most of them expressed their faith in Singh.”
Tomar also said Singh will not be the president after his third term comes to an end in April, as per WFI rules.
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