New Delhi : Sanjay Singh, a close aide of deposed WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was on Thursday elected as the new president of the Wrestling Federation of India.
The electoral battle saw Sanjay defeating Commonwealth Games gold medalist wrestler Anita Sheoran by a substantial margin, with a vote tally of 40-7.
Voting took place earlier on Thursday following a lengthy legal tussle as the federation remains suspended by the international federation United World Wrestling.
The elections were held for 15 posts, including the president, treasurer, secretary-general, and senior vice-president.
Sheoran faction secured the crucial position of secretary general with Prem Chand Lochab, a former RSPB (Railway Sports Promotion Board) secretary, triumphing over Darshan Lal with a 27-19 vote tally.
Devender Singh Kadian, who is considered close to the protesting wrestlers, claimed the senior vice president’s post, beating I D Nanavati 32-15.
The Brij Bhushan faction secured all four vice president positions with Jai Prakash from Delhi (37), Asit Kumar Saha from West Bengal (42), Kartar Singh from Punjab (44), and N Phoni from Manipur (38) emerging victorious.
Satyapal Singh Deshwal, who is also from the Brij Bhushan camp, became the new treasurer.
The newly elected WFI chief promptly addressed the ongoing issues in Indian wrestling community, targeting top wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat, who were at the forefront of a protest against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan earlier this year.
“Those who want to compete, they should wrestle. Those who want to do politics, should do politics. Those who want to do in politics will be answered in the political arena, ” said Sanjay Singh after his victory was declared.
Top wrestlers like Bajrang, Sakshi, and Vinesh Phogat had protested against ex-WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan and had leveled grave accusations against the multiple-time Member of Parliament, including allegations of sexual assault.
Bajrang and Sakshi, both prominent figures in Indian wrestling, had reportedly sought the intervention of Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. They had recently met sports minister seeking ways to prevent Brij Bhushan’s aide from contesting for president but to no avail.
With the conclusion of the elections for the office bearers in WFI, a path has been paved for United World Wrestling (UWW), the global governing body for wrestling, to lift the suspension imposed on WFI.
The suspension was a result of WFI’s failure to conduct elections within the deadline set by UWW in August. Consequently, Indian wrestlers had been compelled to compete as neutral athletes in global events over the preceding months.