Lucknow: The dishonour of one woman had led to the Mahabharata, Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda said Tuesday as he attacked the BJP-led central government over the wrestlers’ protest, warning it against testing the patience of the country.
The Rajya Sabha MP’s remarks came as the wrestlers gathered at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar to immerse their medals in the Ganga to press for action against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they alleged sexually harassed women grapplers.
But the wrestlers did not carry out the threat after farmer leaders and ‘khaps’ from Haryana appealed to them to call off the move and sought five days’ time to resolve their issue.
Earlier in the day, when the wrestlers announced their plan, Hooda appealed against it and told them that they got these awards through hard work and not due to any kindness by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
“These medals are the country’s honours. These medals have not come from any act of kindness by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The sportspersons won it through their hard work,” Hooda said.
Warning to the BJP government, Hooda said the dishonour of one woman had led to the Mahabharata and the government “should not test the patience of the country”.
“The government has repeatedly insulted sportspersons and daughters. Similar behaviour was meted out to them during the inauguration of the new Parliament building. The sportspersons are going to immerse their medals in the Ganga in Haridwar. People are extremely sad about it. I would appeal to the sportspersons to not do this,” he told reporters here.
Later, on Brij Bhushan’s claim that he was innocent, Hooda told PTI, “They (sportspersons) are fighting so that they can get justice. Everything is in front of the nation. There are seven girls, who want to get justice, and they have levelled allegations of molestation. The government has not taken any action. They have been protesting for months.”
In a scathing attack on the Union government, the Haryana Congress leader said, “Their slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ rings hollow. Now, the slogan is ‘Beti Ko BJP Ke Sansado Se Bachaao’ (save the daughters from BJP MPs). This is the situation and it is painful that the nation has to see that girls are not getting respect. This is most unfortunate.”
On whether the wrestlers’ protest is being seen as an Uttar Pradesh versus Haryana affair, Hooda said, “A daughter’s honour cannot be seen from the prism of one state versus another, one caste versus another, one religion against another, one language versus another or one party versus another. A girl’s honour is a girl’s honour, and it is an honour for every ‘Bharatiya’ (Indian), and to give a girl justice is ‘Rajdharm’. The government is failing in ‘Rajdharm’.”
The country’s top wrestlers, who were detained by Delhi Police and removed from their Jantar Mantar protest site, on Tuesday said they will immerse their hard-earned medals in river Ganges and sit on a hunger strike “until death” at the India Gate.
Sakshi Malik, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics, said in a statement on her Twitter handle that the wrestlers will go to Haridwar on Tuesday to immerse the medals in the holy river in Haridwar.
“These medals are our life and soul. We are going to immerse them in the Ganges. After that there is no point in living, so we will sit on a hunger strike until death at India Gate,” she said in the statement written in Hindi. The same statement was also shared by her compatriot Vinesh Phogat.
Tuesday is Ganga Dussehra in Haridwar and possibly a day when a lot of people will be there to offer prayers.
On Sunday, Delhi police detained Malik along with World Championships bronze winner Vinesh Phogat and another Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and later filed FIRs against them for violation of law and order, as dramatic scenes unfolded at the protest site at Jantar Mantar.
Hooda also hit out at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre over the completion of its nine years in power. “The Modi government has disappointed the people of the country. It has not been able to fulfil the promises made to the country,” he said.
On opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, he said the Congress was willing to speak to all like-minded parties.