Aaj Ki Baat
Image Source : INDIA TV Aaj Ki Baat with Rajat Sharma.

A shocked nation watched on Thursday as two top Indian female wrestlers wept in front of the media and one of them, Sakshi Malik, Olympic bronze medalist, put her athletic shoes on the table to announce that she was quitting sports. Sitting with her was Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold medals in both the Asian and Commonwealth Games. Accompanying them was Bajrang Punia, 65 kg freestyle Olympic bronze medal winner and the only Indian wrestler to win four medals at the World Wrestling Championships.

As India’s medal-winning daughters wept in public, the main accused in the sexual harassment scandal, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, former Wrestling Federation of India chief, stood at his residence, wearing garlands. He said laughingly, “Dabdabaa thaa, dabdabaa hai, aur dabdabaa rahgea” (meaning, my dominance was there, is there and it will be there).  Singh said, he had been facing a bad time “Rahu Kaal” for the last 11 months, which was now over. His acolyte Sanjay Singh and his panel of candidates had swept the WFI elections. Singh’s supporters won the posts of President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and executive members. Singh had kept himself and his family members out of the elections.

Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and several women wrestlers had levelled serious sexual harassment and exploitation charges against Singh. The wrestlers had sat on a dharna at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar twice, had several rounds of talks with the Sports Minister, a case was filed against Singh by Delhi Police, and the minister had assured that the ‘bahubali’ (strongman) would be kept out from WFI and its elections. A ban was imposed on Singh and any of his family members from contesting WFI elections. On Thursday, Singh had the last laugh. He claimed that his men garnered 90 per cent votes. The question now is: Has Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh become more powerful than the government? Did the struggle of our daughter wrestlers go in vain? Was the Delhi Police chargesheet against Sinha worth nothing? Were the promises made and sympathy shown to our medal-winning wrestlers fake?

There were celebrations and fireworks at Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s residence when the results were declared. Singh’s acolyte Sanjay Singh contested the post of President against the wrestlers’ choice Anita Sheoran. He got 40 out of 47 votes, while the remaining seven votes went to Anita Sheoran. Brij Bhushan had made foolproof arrangements to ensure the victory of his supporters. Sanjay Singh had been working as the eyes and ears of Brij Bhushan for the last several years. He was vice president of the UP Wrestling Association and had become WFI vice president. Since the government had prohibited Singh from contesting elections, Brij Bhushan wanted to anoint his son or his son-in-law as WFI chief, but this was not allowed by the government. The Centre wanted that Brij Bhushan’s control on WFI should go, but the wily politician found a way out. He fielded his acolytes, made them victorious and will now be running WFI with a remote control in hand.

Watching them rejoicing on TV, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat told media persons that they have lost the battle and have now little hope of getting justice. Bajrang Punia said, he has still not lost hope and will continue his struggle for the sake of future generation of wrestlers. He expressed faith in the judiciary. Brij Bhushan has done what he had promised. His dominance will continue in WFI. It was heartbreaking for people watching the medal-winner female wrestlers weeping on TV. Watching the sexual exploitation accused laughing in arrogance may have angered millions of people about the ineffectiveness of our system.

Brij Bhushan had said several months ago that his ‘dabdabaa’ (dominance) will continue to remain in Indian wrestling. The girls who won medals and brought accolades for India were promised that they would be freed from the clutches of Brij Bhushan. But the broad smile on Brij Bhushan’s face said it all. He had the votes, the system and his winning acolytes with him. Brij Bhushan has been MP six times, he runs more than 50 schools and colleges in Uttar Pradesh, has been imprisoned several times in the past, is known as a ‘bahubali’ (strongman). He claims he can make BJP win vital parliamentary seats in UP, and if he was sidelined by his party, he would make the Samajwadi Party win those seats. He has done this in the past too. ‘Mahabali’ Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh knows that the female wrestlers sitting on dharna do not carry any weight. For him, these champion female wrestlers are not worth a dime for BJP, because they do not have votes, nor popular support. If Brij Bhushan thinks that by winning elections and ensuring his ‘dabdabaa’ in WFI, he will frighten these female wrestlers and arm-twist witnesses in his case, he is mistaken.

The sparks of Thursday’s WFI elections are bound to fly and cause a big fire, Sakshi’s and Vinesh’s tears will act as acid rain in courts. In Hindi, there is a proverb, “Bhagwaan ke ghar me der hai, par andher nahin” (verbatim translation: In God’s abode, there can be a delay, but there won’t be any injustice). When the long hands of law will finally reach Brij Bhushan, he will get his just desserts.

Aaj Ki Baat: Monday to Friday, 9:00 pm

India’s Number One and most followed Super Prime Time News Show ‘Aaj Ki Baat- Rajat Sharma Ke Saath’ was launched just before the 2014 General Elections. Since its inception, the show has redefined India’s super-prime time and is numerically far ahead of its contemporaries.


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