Sanjay Singh, a close aide of former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, has been elected as the new president of the federation. This comes after Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh stepped aside earlier this year, allowing for fresh polls.
The election results have left some prominent wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat and Sakshee Malikkh, expressing their concerns.
Sakshee Malikkh, an Olympic medallist, voiced disappointment over the lack of a woman chief in the wrestling body.
“We slept for 40 days on the roads and a lot of people from several parts of the country came to support us. If Brij Bhushan Singh’s business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, I quit wrestling,” the star wrestler said at the Press Club of India on Thursday.
“Whatever awards I have won for the country, I have won with your blessings, I will always be grateful to all you countrymen. Goodbye to wrestling,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Vinesh Phogat, a Commonwealth and Asian Games Gold medallist, broke down on camera and expressed her worry about the future of women wrestlers, stating, “Now that Sanjay Singh has been elected chief of the federation, women wrestlers will continue to face harassment.”
She added, “There are minimal expectations but we hope that we get justice. It’s saddening that the future of wrestling is in the dark. To whom shall we convey our grief… We are still fighting.”
Sanjay Singh secured a sweeping victory with 40 out of 47 votes, defeating Anita Sheoran, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who had the support of top wrestlers protesting against sexual harassment charges faced by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Sakshi and some fellow wrestlers opposed Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also a Member of Parliament from the Bhartiya Janata Party. They supported Anita Sheoran to become the president of the Wrestling Federation of India. Anita aimed to be the first woman to hold this position but unfortunately lost the election, receiving only 7 votes out of 47.
“We have made demands for a woman president. If the president would be a woman, harassment would not happen. But, there was no participation of women earlier and today you can see the list, not even a single woman was given a position. We had fought with complete strength but this fight will continue. The wrestlers of the new generation have to fight,” Sakshee said.
In addition to the president’s post, elections were held for a senior vice-president, four vice presidents, a secretary-general, a treasurer, two joint secretaries and five executive members.