Lucknow: The results of the elections of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) have reaffirmed that the invincible shield that outgoing WFI President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh wears, comes from the influence he wields in half a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.
The fact that Lok Sabha elections are only a few months away, adds to his importance.
Singh’s strong links with the saints and his role in the Ayodhya temple movement make him stronger than many other MPs in the BJP.
The dozens of educational institutions he owns in eastern Uttar Pradesh, add to his vote bank and have created a climate that works in favour of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh — the six-term MP, who has weathered the storm over allegations of sexual harassment from wrestlers and emerged victorious.
Singh, as the WFI President, faced wrestlers’ protest on the issue and the Delhi Police had filed two cases against him after the Supreme Court ordered them to do so.
One of the FIRs was over a complaint of sexual harassment by a minor, filed under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which gives no scope for bail.
Yet the Delhi police made no efforts to arrest Singh, who insists that he will face an inquiry but will not resign ‘as a criminal’ and he stuck to his words.
The BJP that claims to be firm on discipline, has turned a proverbial Nelson’s eye to Singh’s behaviour.
By ensuring the victory of his aide Sanjay Singh as WFI President, Singh has proved to his detractors that he will continue to wield power in the federation through the new President.
Much before he took over as President of the WFI in 2011, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was known for his arm-twisting tactics.
A key player in the Ayodhya movement, he was known as a one-man army for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh at that time — the party then had minimal presence on the political centrestage in the state.
Born in Gonda in 1957, Brij Bhushan’s interest in politics began as a college student in the 70’s.
He entered politics with a vengeance when senior BJP leader LK Advani came to Gonda during the Ayodhya movement.
Singh offered to ‘drive’ Advani’s Rath and this catapulted him to instant fame within the BJP.
Singh won his first election in 1991, defeating Raja Anand Singh from Gonda.
The following year, he was named as an accused in the Babri demolition case which consolidated his ‘pro-Hindu image’. He was acquitted along with others in 2020.
This image brought the saints of Ayodhya come out in his support when he faced allegations from the wrestlers, earlier this year.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been elected to the Lok Sabha six times from Gonda, Balrampur and Kaiserganj and more than his political acumen, Singh has been known as a mafia of the region.
At one point of time, Singh was named in more than three dozen criminal cases.
In 1996, he was accused of sheltering associates of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. He was booked under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act and jailed.
During his stint in prison, Atal Bihari Vajpayee allegedly wrote to him, asking him to take courage and “remember Savarkarji who was sentenced to life imprisonment”.
Later, he was acquitted in the case, mainly due to lack of evidence.
In 1996, when he was in jail, the BJP gave the Lok Sabha ticket to his wife Ketaki Singh and she also won with a handsome margin.
The BJP, interestingly, has always given ample political protection to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh mainly because of the clout he wields in eastern Uttar Pradesh and among Rajputs.
The party leadership knows that it would lose out on seats if it showed the door to Singh.
Singh’s clout has only grown after the turn of the century and so has his money power.
His brazenness is evident from the fact that during the 2022 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh admitted in an interview to a TV channel that he had committed one murder — something that even the most dreaded criminal does not admit on camera.
In the interview, Brij Bhushan said he shot the man who had killed Ravindra.
“I pushed the man who shot Ravindra Singh and shot him dead,” he added.
Earlier, in 2009, Brij Bhushan had briefly parted ways with the BJP and joined the Samajwadi Party but he returned home to the BJP before Modi’s victory in 2014.
As Brij Bhushan’s stature grew within the BJP, his ‘business’ also flourished.
He owns around 50 schools and colleges and has interests in mining, besides dabbling in liquor contracts, coal business and also real estate.
Singh is known to gift motorcycles, scooters, and money to students and supporters on his birthday every year.
His appointment as President of the WFI in 2011, further added to his ‘weight’.
In December 2021, he did not think twice before slapping a wrestler on-stage during an event in Ranchi.
The kind of clout that Singh wields within the BJP, is evident from the fact that he has even slammed the Yogi Adityanath government and accused the bureaucracy of making elected representatives ‘touch their feet’. He also criticised the state government’s lack of preparedness for floods.
Political analysts are actually bewildered at the lack of action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is known to take the bull by its horns — more so, if it is a mafia in question.
“One can simply not understand Yogi Adityanath turning a blind eye to Singh’s activities. It has to be pressure from the top that is preventing the Chief Minister from turning his bulldozer towards Singh’s kingdom,” said a party functionary.
The fact that no action — not even a word of disapproval — was taken in the matter, has made him even bolder.
“Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh believes he is invincible and does not fear even his own party leadership. No one can dare criticise him and even journalists keep a safe distance from him. The police bow before him. The clout he wields can only be seen to be believed,” said one of his former supporters.
Moreover, with Lok Sabha elections just a few months away, the BJP cannot target Singh.
He is any day a more influential Thakur in the state politics even though it is Yogi Adityanath, who is recognised as a Thakur leader.
And that is reason enough for the BJP to avoid any action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Even his detractors now admit that the story of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is far from over–in fact, many say that it has just begun and he is a man to watch out for in politics in the coming months.