Focus on sports: Haryana CM’s message to wrestlers on new WFI chief

| Updated: 24 December, 2023 12:22 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar urged athletes to prioritise their sports and steer clear of getting entangled in political circles. Addressing the recent appointment of Former WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s close aide Sanjay Singh as the new chief of the federation, Khattar emphasised that the election process occurred democratically and urged athletes to acknowledge the results.

“Players should focus more on sports. The issue that came up regarding association is encircled by politics. Elections take place democratically so now they should accept it,” Khattar said.

The CM’s remarks were prompted by the fallout following Sanjay Singh’s election, which led star wrestler Sakshi Malik to announce her retirement from the sport. The election results, contested by prominent wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, emerged amid accusations of sexual harassment against former WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan.

Sakshi Malik, a vocal critic of the former WFI chief, emotionally expressed her distress over Sharan Singh’s associate winning the elections. She tearfully announced her decision to step away from wrestling during a press conference, symbolising her retirement by placing her shoes on the table.

In solidarity, Bajrang Punia conveyed his protest by deciding to return his Padma Shri award in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I am returning my Padma Shri award to the Prime Minister,” Punia wrote on microblogging site X.

Amid the controversy, Sanjay Singh defended his association with the BJP MP, dismissing any wrongdoing and highlighting his prior positions within the wrestling federation. “Is it a crime to be close to the MP? I always held positions and it has nothing to do with the MP. I was the chief of the wrestling federation of Varanasi before,” Singh said.

Brij Bhushan expressed his contentment with Sanjay Singh’s victory, suggesting a continuation of his influence over the federation akin to the past.


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