Who is Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the WFI chief in the eye of the storm?
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the head of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), has been in the eye of the storm for the past few days. The BJP MP represents the Kaiserganj constituency in UP in the Lok Sabha.
Prominent wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, have accused Singh of sexually exploiting women wrestlers “for years”.
The wrestlers have been protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar and have said that several coaches in the national camp in Lucknow also exploited women wrestlers. The union minister for sports, Anurag Thakur, met the wrestlers on Thursday, and the Centre formed a three-member panel to probe the allegations against Singh.
Singh has, however, said that the charges levelled against him are a part of a “deep consipracy” and that he can be “hanged” if “one wrestler comes forward and says that she has been sexually harassed”.
Who is Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh?
Singh is the Lok Sabha MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh. He joined politics under Raja Anand Singh but later joined the Ram Temple movement in 1989. In 1991, he was elected the MP from Gonda. In 1999, he won from Gonda again.
He fell out with the BJP, joined the Samajwadi Party in 2008 and won the Kaiserganj seat for the first time in the 2009 general elections. He rejoined the BJP in 2014 and won from Kaiserganj again. This is his sixth term as an MP.
He is also a member of the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, as well as the consultative committee of the ministry of youth and sports.
He is said to have a political stronghold in four districts of UP: Balrampur, Gonda, Bahraich and Shravasti. He has also built over 50 educational institutions in these areas.
In 2012, he defeated Congress’ Deepender Hooda to become the president of the WFI.
A long list of criminal cases
Singh has not been alien to criminal cases. He was one of the staunchest supporters of the Ram Mandir movement in the BJP and was accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. According to his election affidavit from the 2019 polls, he still has four pending cases against him.
He faces charges of causing voluntary harm to a public servant (section 332 of the Indian Penal Code), attempts to murder (section 307), robbery (section 392) and illegal payments for election (section 171H).
In the mid-1990s, Singh was arrested under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) for allegedly helping associates of gangster Dawood Ibrahim like Subash Thakur, Jayendra Thakur and Paresh Desai. He spent several months in Tihar jail but was later cleared of the charges.
According to The Print, Singh was also accused of attempting to murder former minister Vinod Kumar Singh, also known as “Pandit Singh”.
In early 2022, Raj Thackrey wanted to visit the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Singh said he would be allowed to visit only if he apologised for his remarks on northern Indians working in Mumbai. He had reportedly mobilised over 100,000 people to stop Thackrey from entering the city. Thackrey had to cancel the visit.
In 2020, after her loss at Tokyo Olympics, Singh called Vinesh Phogat a “khota sikka” (fake coin). Phogat is one of the leading voices in the protest today.
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