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End of the Brij Bhushan reign?

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The WFI electoral list released does not have names of former WFI president Brij Bhushan and his son Karan Bhushan.

Former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and his son Karan Bhushan Singh’s names do not figure in the list of the electoral college for the federation’s elections of the executive body scheduled on August 12.

Former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh(File Photo).

Since six-time Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan, who is facing charges of sexual harassment of women’s wrestlers following sit-in protests by India’s top grapplers, has already completed the maximum three terms (12 years) as president of WFI, there was speculation that Karan Bhushan would be handed over the reins in the newly elected body.

One of the key demands of the protesting wrestlers, which included Tokyo Olympics medallist Bajrang Punia and two-time World Championships medallist Vinesh Phogat, was to bring an end to the reign of Brij Bhushan and his family members in WFI. The wrestlers ended their 36-day protest on June 7 after meetings with Union home minister Amit Shah, followed by another round of discussions with sports minister Anurag Thakur.

However, Brij Bhushan’s son-in-law Vishal Singh, who is president of the Bihar state unit, will be part of the election with a nomination from Bihar.

In the electoral list, Uttar Pradesh Wrestling Association (UPWA), the state unit where Brij Bhushan is the president and Karan Bhushan a senior vice-president, will be represented by the state body’s general secretary Premkumar Mishra and its joint secretary Sanjay Singh in the elections. Only those in the electoral college can cast a vote and be nominated for elections to the executive committee of WFI.

Railways Sports Promotion Board secretary Prem Chand Lochab, a key mediator between the protesting wrestlers and the government, has been nominated for the electoral college by the Gujarat state unit. Persons aware of developments said Lochab is a front-runner for a top post in WFI.

“He played a crucial role in the talks between the protesting wrestlers and the government. Even the wrestlers will have no objection to him taking over the reins of WFI,” said an official aware of election developments.

Earlier, ahead of the originally scheduled election on July 11, Brij Bhushan and Karan Bhushan’s names were sent by UPWA as representatives for the elections. Though Bri Bhushan’s participation in the polls, subject to the scrutiny of returning officer, would have been only to cast his vote, UP’s decision had come as a big surprise as it could have led to a fresh controversy.

However, the election was stayed by the Gauhati high court on a plea by the Assam Wrestling Association seeking participation in the polls as a “recognised” unit of WFI. The stay was lifted by the Supreme Court on July 18 following which a revised election notification was issued by the returning officer Justice (retd) MM Kumar.

Since the stay on elections came on the last day to receive nominations, Justice Kumar accepted a request from WFI ad hoc committee member Bhupinder Singh Bajwa to grant “adequate opportunity to everyone to make fresh nomination/seek changes in the nomination already made”.

As per the revised schedule, the last day for receiving nominations was on Monday. Uttar Pradesh unit filed fresh nominations withdrawing the names of Brij Bhushan and son Karan Bhushan, who has also served as WFI vice-president since 2019. “Their names have been withdrawn by UPWA and they have sent fresh nominations,” said a person aware of the developments.

In the electoral list, 25 states have nominated two representatives each for the electoral college. Elections will be held for the post of president, senior vice-president, four vice-presidents, a secretary general, a treasurer, two joint secretaries and five executive members. The submission of nominations for elections is from July 28-31. The scrutiny of nominations will be done on August 2 while the final date of withdrawal of nominations is August 8. Elections for the general body will be held on Aug 12.

Some WFI officials were taken by surprise by some of the names in the electoral college. A top wrestling official said they will raise a complaint with the returning officer as some of the names in the electoral college were not part of the respective associations, which is not compliant with the WFI constitution.

“Prem Chand Lochab is not part of Gujarat association. He is from the Railways. Same with Devender, who is from Haryana and is representing Assam. Also Anita, who is a former wrestler, will represent Odisha. We are surprised how these names which are not part of any state unit of WFI have been included,” the official said. Devender Singh Kadyan, who is the chairman of the Mannat Group of Hotels, is a BJP politician from Haryana and is likely to contest for a key position in the federation. Anita Sheoran is one of the witnesses in the sexual harassment case against Singh and is employed with the Haryana police.

As per the WFI constitution, each eligible state unit is required to “nominate two of their Executive Members of their unit to represent that State/UT in the elections”. The above mentioned official also questioned how the Assam Wrestling Association, which went to court, has been given affiliation and its nomination accepted. “The ad hoc committee has no business giving affiliation to any state unit,” the official said. “Brij Bhushan would not have contested the elections anyway but these things are being done to create problems in the elections,” he said.

However, some of Brij Bhushan’s close associates such as Satya Pal Singh Deswal, former WFI treasurer, and former WFI joint secretary Jai Prakash of Delhi, have been nominated to the electoral college from their respective state units, Uttarakhand and Delhi.

source by : Hindustan times

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