"Focus More On Sports": ML Khattar As Wrestlers Quit, Return Awards

Decisions should not be made emotionally, Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said.

"Focus More On Sports": ML Khattar As Wrestlers Quit, Return Awards

Decisions should not be made emotionally, Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said. This is the state government's first reaction since Olympic wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh quit the sport and Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri award after Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's aide won the wrestling federation poll.

"Emotions should not drive decision-making. Federation elections were held and the results came. But it is not right to take such a big step," Mr Chautala said.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, seemingly throwing his weight behind the new wrestling body chief, said, the players should "focus more on sports".

"Sports is getting too influenced by politics. Athletes should accept the results of the elections. In villages when the panchayat decides on any issue by tossing a coin, people respect that decision. In this case, free and fair elections were held," he said.

Shortly after Sanjay Singh, a close aide of former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, succeeded him in the top post in elections held on Thursday, Olympic medallist and ace wrestler Sakshee Malikkh declared that she was quitting the sport. 

A day later, another wrestler Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri to PM Modi. The Olympic medal-winning wrestler kept his Padma Shri medallion on a footpath at the Kartavya Path in Delhi. It was later picked up by the police.

Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan, won the election to the wrestling federation by a landslide on Thursday, defeating Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anita Sheoran, backed by the protesting wrestlers. Mr Singh scooped 40 of the 47 votes.

In January this year, Ms Malikkh, Mr Punia, and Vinesh Phogat led a massive protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, accusing Sharan Singh of sexually harassing several wrestlers and demanding action against him.

The protest was called off after the government ordered a probe and assured the wrestlers that no aide or relative of Sharan Singh would be allowed to contest the subsequent polls of the wrestling body. While Brij Bhushan's son Prateek and son-in-law Vishal Singh did not enter the contest, his aide Sanjay Singh's nomination was cleared.

Sanjay Singh has earlier served as the vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh wrestling body. He was part of the WFI's last executive council and its joint secretary since 2019.