New Delhi: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the Centre on Monday of spreading “false news” about dissolving the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and alleged that its activities have been stopped to spread confusion and shelter a BJP MP who has been accused of sexual harassment by female wrestlers.
She also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) always protects the accused with all its might and tortures the victims whenever incidents of atrocities on women come to light.
“The BJP is spreading false news about dissolving the wrestling federation. The federation has not been dissolved, its activities have been stopped so that the accused can be saved by spreading confusion. Do they have to stoop to this level to suppress the voice of aggrieved women?” the Congress general secretary asked in a post in Hindi on X.
“The well-known players who made the country proud accused a BJP MP of sexual harassment and the government stood with the accused. The victims were tortured and the accused was rewarded,” she said, adding that even the prime minister and the home minister did not pay attention to the issue.
“The home minister forgot the assurance given to the women wrestlers in return for withdrawing the agitation,” Gandhi said.
She said it is the “height of arrogance” that the accused BJP MP, former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, ensured that the next national-level competitions will be played in his own district, on his own college ground.
“Defeated by this darkness and injustice, Olympic medal-winner Sakshi Malik quit wrestling and when players started returning their awards, the government is spreading rumours,” Gandhi alleged.
“Wherever there are atrocities on a woman, this government with all the might of its power protects the accused and tortures the victims. We talk about women leadership in every field, but the people in power are busy harassing, suppressing and discouraging the women who are moving forward.
“The people of the country, the women of the country are watching all this,” she said on the microblogging platform.
The WFI election was held on December 21, with Sanjay Singh, a loyalist of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and his panel winning the polls by big margins.
The sports ministry, however, suspended the WFI till further notice on Sunday, after the wrestling body made a “hasty announcement” of organising the under-15 and under-20 national competitions “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.
The ministry also said the new body was working under the “complete control of former (WFI) office-bearers”, which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh later said he has “taken retirement” from wrestling politics and the newly-elected body will take charge as he has many more responsibilities to look after, including next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Several top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Malik and Bajrang Punia and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh, and the case is being heard by the Delhi High Court. The former WFI chief has denied the allegations against him and claimed that he is being targeted under a conspiracy hatched by Congress leaders.
Malik announced her retirement from wrestling at a press conference in Delhi on Thursday, in protest against Sanjay Singh’s election as the WFI chief.