Rahul tries his hand at wrestling at Jhajjar akhara - Hindustan Times
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Rahul tries his hand at wrestling at Jhajjar akhara

BySunil Rahar, Rohtak
Dec 28, 2023 08:22 AM IST

The sports ministry suspended the WFI after WFI’s new president Sanjay Singh announced the hosting of the U-15 and U-20 nationals by the end of this year

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday morning visited Virender Arya Akhara in Haryana’s Jhajjar district and interacted with the wrestlers including Bajrang Punia. The visit comes amid a fresh row over the Wrestling Foundation of India.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bajrang Punia in action during a wrestling dabble at an akhara in Jhajjar. (HT)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bajrang Punia in action during a wrestling dabble at an akhara in Jhajjar. (HT)

The sports ministry suspended the WFI after WFI’s new president Sanjay Singh announced the hosting of the U-15 and U-20 nationals by the end of this year. Wrestlers who accused former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment were miffed over the election of Sanjay Singh as Sanjay Singh is very close to Brij Bhushan. In protest, Sakshi Malik announced her retirement from wrestling, Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri and Vinesh Phogat announced she would return her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award.

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Talking to media Virender Arya, coach of wrestlers Barjrang Punia and Deepak Punia, said that Rahul Gandhi made a surprise visit to the akhara.

“ Everyone was surprised after seeing Rahul Gandhi. He is very fit and healthy. He practiced with Bajrang , Deepak Punia and other wrestlers. He came to see the daily life of wrestlers and their struggles. He had roti and saag and exercised with us. He has vast knowledge of sports,” Virender added.

Bajrang Punia said Rahul Gandhi exercised with him and tried his hand at wrestling with him. “He came to see what is the day-to-day life of a wrestler,” Bajrang said adding that Rahul Gandhi shot a video at the akara for his YouTube channel.

The Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on X (formerly twitter) said that there is only one question – if these players, daughters of India, have to leave the fight in their Akhara and fight for their rights and justice on the street, then who will encourage their children to choose this path?

“These are innocent, straightforward and simple people from farmers’ families. Let them serve the tricolour, make India proud with full honour and respect,” the MP wrote on X.

Sakshi Malik’s announcement of retirement after BJP MP Brij Bhushan’s close aide Sanjay Singh was elected as the chief of the wrestling federation became a political flash point. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra went to Sakshi Malik’s residence to visit her after she announced her exit from wrestling.

BJP MP Brij Bhushan washed his hands off the ongoing WFI controversy and said the moment Sanjay Singh was elected the chief of the federation, Brij Bhushan retired from wrestling. He said Sanjay Singh is his close, but not his relative and whatever happens to the federation now is between the federation and the government; Brij Bhushan’s focus is now the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP leader Babita Phogat says wrestlers’ will get justice

BJP leader and former wrestler Babita Phogat told media persons in Charkhi Dadri that the union government has taken a good step by suspending WFI body and she claimed that wrestlers’ will get justice. She refused to comment on her brother-in-law Bajrang Punia’s decision to return Padma Shri award.

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