‘Just because I’m close to Brij Bhushan, doesn’t mean I’m a dummy candidate’

Sanjay Singh has been appointed as the new Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief. PTI

Newly-elected Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Sanjay Singh hit out at protesting grapplers for “engaging in politics” and asserted that he’s not a dummy candidate for the outgoing chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Sanjay, who was elected as president of the WFI on Thursday, is known to be a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who had been accused of sexual harassment by the country’s top wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia.

Sanjay Singh won bulk of the votes in the delayed polls, as Brij Bhushan gained indirect control over the national federation.

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“Those who are athletes have already started preparing and those who want to engage in politics can do that. It is their personal matter, I will not speak about this.

“I have been in the federation for 12 years. Just because I am close to MP (Brij Bhushan) does not mean I am a dummy candidate. Is it a crime if I am close to him?,” Sanjay Singh told reporters when asked about Malik deciding to quit wrestling after he became president.

A tearful Sakhi Malik announced her decision to retire following the wrestling body’s elections. On Friday, Bajrang Punia, who is also a Olympics bronze medallist, decided to return his Padma Shri award as a mark of protest.

A BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj, Brij Bhushan had stepped down as WFI president after being accused of exploitation by top female wrestlers.

Meanwhile, Sakshi posted on X how she’s worried about the junior wrestlers who have been “calling me about the junior nationals”.

The new body announced that the U-15 and U-20 nationals will be held from December 28-30 in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.

“I have given up wrestling but I am worried since last night. What should I do about those junior women wrestlers who are calling me and telling me that the junior nationals are going to be held from 28th and the new wrestling federation has decided to hold it in Nandani Nagar Gonda.

“Gonda is the area of Brij Bhushan. Now imagine how the junior women wrestlers will go there to compete. Is there no place in this country to hold Nationals anywhere other than Nandani Nagar? I don’t understand what to do.”

The WFI also said the senior National Championships will be held from January 28 in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar.

Trio of Sakshi, Bajrang and Vinesh Phogat had demanded that no close associate of Brij Bhushan should enter the WFI.

The three wrestlers had accused Brij Bhushan of sexually exploiting several women wrestlers. They had even contemplated throwing away their medals into river Ganga on May 30 in Haridwar but the farmer leaders had convinced them not to take the step.

(with inputs from PTI)

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