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BJP and Opposition's stance on wrestlers protest

From the BJP, the party has fielded union ministers Anurag Thakur and Meenakshi Lekhi to tackle the issue
Last Updated : 05 May 2023, 17:53 IST

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Parties like Congress and AAP are trying to take leverage from the wrestlers protesting against their federation chief in allegations of sexual harassment by making a beeline to their protest site at Jantar Mantar even as the BJP, which had given them a complete go-miss, is now attempting to counter it.

Leaders from the Opposition parties have started visiting the protest site at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, as the country's international wrestlers have refused to wrap up their protest against Wrestling Federation of India president Brijbhushan Singh. The BJP, on the other hand, has sought to turn the tables by saying that the credibility of the wrestlers get marred when they allow politicians with corruption cases to join the protest.

Congress and AAP are upping the ante with Haryana in mind, as most of the ‘akaharas’ are in the BJP-ruled state. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday said the Delhi Police was torturing the protesting wrestlers, which include Bajrang Punia, Vineesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik among others.

From the BJP, the party has fielded union ministers Anurag Thakur and Meenakshi Lekhi to tackle the issue. Speaking to reporters at Lucknow, Thakur, who is also the sports minister, urged the wrestlers to take back their protests as the government has listened to their demands.

“The government has accepted all demands, the Supreme Court has given its direction, and the police is carrying out their investigation,” said Thakur. “I urge the wrestlers to call off their dharna and cooperate in conducting a fair and impartial probe. We will ensure that there is justice.”

Thakur’s plea comes a day after Lekhi told reporters that by allowing leaders like Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, who is accused of corruption, the wrestlers have their credibility at stake.

For the BJP, at stake is Brij Bhushan’s sway over several Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. A leader who started out during LK Advani’s Rath Yatra by volunteering to drive the rath, Brij Bhushan holds considerable clout among the priests in the Ayodhya belt. As the party looks to the Ram Temple’s inauguration in an election year in 2024, action against him could hurt, said a party leader from Uttar Pradesh.

On the other hand, Congress sources said the protest by sports icons has hit the BJP hard, especially in the Jat belt of Haryana and with leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visiting the protesters have sent a signal. However, they do not see huge political gains but said these gestures will have its value at a later date.

Apart from Kejriwal, RLD’s Jayant Singh, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son MP Deepender Hooda, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and, AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj were among the leaders who also visited the spot while Rahul Gandhi, MK Stalin and Mamata Banerjee tweeted their support as the Modi government turned its face against them.

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Published 05 May 2023, 17:53 IST

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