Four candidates, including outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's close aide Sanjay Kumar Singh from UP, filed nominations for the post of president amid fanfare at the Olympic Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday.
Darshan Lal from the Chandigarh wrestling body filed his nomination for the post of general secretary, while SP Deswal from Uttarakhand filed his nomination for the post of treasurer from the Brij Bhushan camp.
The Brij Bhushan camp claims to have the support of 22 of the 25 state units and, after filing nominations, expressed "confidence" of winning all 15 posts during the WFI elections on August 12.
On a day of hectic activity at the Olympic Bhawan, a convoy of nominees and supporters from the Brij Bhushan camp arrived with the "blessings" of the BJP leader, and after extensive paperwork, filed their nominations before former J&K High Court Chief Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar, the Returning Office appointed for the elections.
The last date for withdrawing nominations is August 7.
"There are four candidates for the post of president, three for senior vice-president, six for vice-president, three for the post of general secretary, two for treasurer, three for joint secretary and nine for executive members' post. Against 15 posts, 30 persons have applied," said Justice Kumar.
"Tomorrow, we will display the list of all the candidates whose nomination papers are found to be in order. It will be put up on the (WFI) website tomorrow. One lady is there (for the post of president)," he added.
The only lady candidate on the WFI executive committee members' list is Anita Sheoran, representing Odisha. Sheoran was one of the witnesses in the alleged sexual harassment case against Brij Bhushan.
The Brij Bhushan camp has filed a total of 18 nominations for 15 posts, while candidates from the rival camps left without disclosing which posts they were filing their nominations for.
The Brij Bhushan camp nominees and supporters were the first to arrive at the Olympic Bhawan past noon, after the BJP leader held another round of meeting at a five-star hotel before the convoy left to file nominations.
With less than 45 minutes left for the nominations to close -- and after the Brij Bhushan camp had completed their formalities -- a group that included Sheoran, Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) secretary Prem Chand Lochab (Gujarat representative), Dushyant Sharma (J&K unit) and a few others arrived and left after filing their nominations without speaking to the media.
Even though Brij Bhushan, who had been holding meetings with state units for the last two days to come up with a list of "consensus candidates", did not accompany the candidates to the Olympic Bhawan, his son-in-law Vishal Singh (Bihar Wrestling Federation president), was facilitating his group's candidates in filing nomination papers. He is not in the fray for any post though.
"18 nominations have been filed from our side. Our candidate for the post of president is Sanjay Kumar Singh. We have filed (nominations) for three vice presidents," said Vishal.
Asked why Brij Bhushan did not accompany the nominees after two days of hectic meetings, Vishal said, "I don't think there was any need for him to come. He is not on the voters' list.
"He doesn't need to come, but we all are supporting him. We all are here for him. The WFI has done tremendously well under his leadership. And we really hope that whosoever comes next carries on with the good work."
On whether 22 state units were supporting the Brij Bhushan group, Vishal said, "I believe that so. We are more than confident (of winning the elections). If you see the turnout, majority of the people have come along with us.
"But it's free will, we respect everybody's free will and if an election happens we are more than okay with it."
He also lashed out at those who are saying that the family wanted to make WFI a dynastic affair.
"All the allegations that were put up against us that we are power hungry... a very polite and a very quiet answer has been given (that none of the Brij Bhushan family members is in the fray for elections). The family is not there.
"But whatever loss has happened to the wrestlers (due to the protest) in the past six months... people who were supposedly fighting for the wrestlers, now should focus (that) the wrestler's interests and benefits are taken care of.
"It's not happened as of now (during the trials). I see that pick and choose system has happened," said Vishal.
On whether the new WFI office-bearers would change the selection criterion for the upcoming Asian Games, he said, "I am the wrong person to answer that. I am not in the committee."
Presidential nominee Sanjay Singh, who is also the UP wrestling body's general secretary, said, he had "full confidence" that his panel would win all the posts.
"100 per cent we will win all the seats."
He also said any decision on changes in the team selection for the Asian Games will be "taken after August 12" when the new office-bearers take charge.
In the morning, Brij Bhushan reiterated that no member of his family will contest the WFI polls. While his his son Karan had already pulled out, his son-in-law Vishal too had said on Sunday he would not be contesting for any post.
Before the convoy of nominees and supporters left for the Olympic Bhawan, Brij Bhushan said at his residence, "Today is the last day of nominations, members from 22 state associations were here and they came to meet (me) and are now going for filing their nominations. There is no one from my family."
"Let the elections happen first and then whoever wins will do their work."
Brij Bhushan, against whom the country's six top wrestlers including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat had levelled charges of sexual harassment and sat in protest at Jantar Mantar, is ineligible to contest as he has completed 12 years as head of the federation -- the maximum period allowed as per the National Sports Code.