Brijbhushan Sharan Singh exemplifies political hegemony of sports bodies

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The BJP MP had claimed that his “dabdaba still holds”. Supporters of the wrestlers had said that ‘dabdaba of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh was just ‘joote ki nok (at the tip of their shoes)’.

Brijbhushan Sharan Singh

Brijbhushan Sharan Singh

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, December 25: The Centre in a much belated action and also after popular uproar over ace Olympian Sakshi Malik crying on camera ordered the dissolution of the Wrestling Federation of India. The action came days after Olympians such as Bajrang Punia returned the Padma Shri.

The action of the Central government came after it became public that the World Wrestling Federation of India was operating out of the residence of BJP MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh. The Indian Express in a report said that the newly-elected president of World Federation of India Sanjay Singh had taken the instruction from the BJP MP to hold national championship for under-15 and under-20 by end of this year.

Ironically, the BJP MP had claimed that his “dabdaba still holds”. Supporters of the wrestlers had said that ‘dabdaba of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh was just ‘joote ki nok (at the tip of their shoes)’. A section of the supporters of the two sides sought to make the issue a tug of war between the clouts of Jat and Rajputs in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

With the social media getting flooded with the popular outcry against the hegemony of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh in the World Federation of India, the Narendra Modi government acted to dissolve the sports body. Several commentaries in the newspapers have slammed the episode which shows the stranglehold of the politicians in the sports bodies. The newspapers reminded that the Delhi Police in its probe in the allegations of sexual harasaments levelled by Olympian wrestlers against Brijbhushan Sharan Singh had found evidenes to prosecute the BJP MP. Yet, the dailies wondered what made the government forgot the promises made to the Olympians that no supporters of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh would be allowed to even contest the elections in World Federation of India.

While the Modi government appears to have acted quite late for damage control as the videos of Sakshi Malik crying on camera went viral, it’s worth examining that sports bodies in India without any exception are ruled by the political class. The Supreme Court also has not been able to cut the stranglehold of the political class in the affairs of the sports bodies. While the Supreme Court somewhat succeeded in cleaning up the Football federation of India, sports such as cricket, archery, and others are all run by the politicians.

The Tribune in its Editorial noted: “The wrestlers wanted that no supporter of Brij Bhushan should become an office-bearer of the WFI; according to them, the government had given them a reassurance in this regard. They have every reason to feel frustrated and betrayed now. This is a sad reflection on the administration of Indian wrestling; it is also symptomatic of the all-pervasive politicisation of sports in the country. Such unsavoury developments have undermined India’s stature in the international sporting arena. This does not augur well for the nation’s athletes in the run-up to the 2024 Olympics.”

Deccan Herald also stated in its Editorial that “Brij Bhushan Singh’s victory is attributed mainly to the political clout that he wields on account of his being a BJP MP and his ability to influence elections in some constituencies in UP. This is unfortunate because the government has always claimed that it attaches utmost importance to women’s safety and security and the new, revamped criminal laws prioritize them.”





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