Sportpersons find political pitch too bouncy

Former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh and Olympic medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt (PTI Photo)

Haryana once again proved to be a tough playground of politics for sportspersons as two international wrestlers fielded by the ruling BJP — Babita Phogat of Dangal fame and Yogeshwar Dutt a bronze medalist Olympian — lost elections.

Babita and her father Mahavir, a noted wrestling coach, had joined the BJP on August 12 and the saffron party was hopeful that the young sports icon from Jat community will boost its prospects.

Babita’s entry into politics was also in sync with the aspirations of the BJP, which had gone against the wind by appointing a non-Jat chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, in Haryana, which has mostly been ruled by the Jats.

Babita, who also campaigned in other seats, seems to have become a victim of massive Jat consolidation against the BJP, due to which its prominent community leaders lost the polls this time.

Even otherwise, sportspersons have found the Haryana poll pitch too bouncy and negotiating its rough and tumble a tough call.

Earlier iconic cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi lost the 1971 general elections from Gurgaon as a candidate of Vishal Haryana Party.

This time Babita, who was fielded from Charkhi Dadri Assembly segment was not even in a serious contest as the seat was won by an Independent, Sombir, who defeated Jannayak Janata Party’s Satpal Sangwan by a margin of over 14,000 votes.

BJP could take consolation from the fact that even former BCCI chief Ranbir Singh Mahendra, fielded by the Congress from Badhra constituency in Charkhi Dadri district, lost to JJP leader Naina Chautala.

Yogehswar Dutt performed better but he also lost. He was defeated by a margin of less than 5,000 votes by Congress candidate Sri Krishan Hooda, the sitting legislator.

The saving grace for the BJP is former hockey captain Sandeep Singh, who won his Pehowa seat. Singh, popularly called Flicker Singh, is an Arjuna awardee who had also featured in Bollywood movie Soorma.

He defeated Congress candidate Mandeep Singh Chhattha by a margin of over 5,000 votes.

Bollywood stars also failed to make an impression. TikTok star Sonali Phogat lost the Adampur seat to Congress leader and sitting MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi by over 29,000 votes.

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