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WFI Elections: Bajrang, Vinesh stunned as Brij Bhushan's protege wins

Last updated on: December 21, 2023 15:57 IST

Birj Bhushan loyalist Sanjay Singh becomes new WFI president

Sanjay Singh

Photograph: Kind courtesy Sanjay Singh/Facebook

Sanjay Singh on Thursday became the new President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) with his panel comfortably winning most of the posts in the delayed polls as outgoing chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh gained indirect control over the sports body.

Sanjay, who is UP Wrestling Association Vice President, secured 40 votes as against seven that his rival Anita Sheoran got.


RSS-affiliate Sanjay hails from Varanasi and is a very close associate of Brij Bhushan. Given the tremendous interest the outgoing chief has in the sport, it is expected that Sanjay will consult him in policy decisions.

"It's triumph for thousands of wrestlers in the country who suffered in the past 7-8 months," Sanjay Singh told reporters after his huge win.

The panel of Sheoran, a CWG gold medallist, though managed to win the key post of secretary general as Prem Chand Lochab, a former RSPB secretary, beat Darshan Lal 27-19.

Devender Singh Kadian, who runs a chain of food joints on National Highways and is considered to be close to protesting wrestlers, claimed the senior vice president's post, beating I D Nanavati 32-15.

The Brij Bhushan camp swept all the four posts of Vice Presidents with Delhi's Jai Prakash (37), West Bengal's Asit Kumar Saha (42), Punjab's Kartar Singh (44) and Manipur's N Phoni (38) winning the elections.

The new Madhya Pradesh chief minister Mohan Yadav, who did not turn up for the polls, got only five votes in the VP election.

Uttarakhand's Satyapal Singh Deshwal, who is also from Brij Bhushan camp, is the new treasurer. He beat Jammu and Kashmir's Dushyant Sharma 34-12.

All five executive committee members were also from the outgoing chief's camp.

The outcome of the polls would give top wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik the feeling that their protest against Brij Bhushan has come to naught as they could not get the fraternity behind them despite aggressively pushing for a change of guard. A close associate of the BJP MP is now at the helm.

They had accused Brij Bhushan of sexually harassing women wrestlers, including juniors, and managed to mobilise huge support from different sections of society but the protest fizzled out the day they planned a march towards new Parliament building on May 28 when Delhi police removed all the protesters from Jantar Mantar for rioting.

The wrestlers had officially called off their protest on June 7 when Sports Minister

Anurag Thakur assured them that none of the family members or close associates of Brij Bhushan will be allowed to enter the WFI election fray.

Stage set for lifting UWW ban on WFI

The election of the new executive council will also pave the way for lifting the UWW ban on WFI. The world governing body of the game had banned WFI for not conducting election on time, forcing Indian wrestlers to compete as neutral athletes at the 2023 World Championships.

The election process was set in motion in July but was delayed because of court cases. The Supreme Court recently set aside the stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, paving the way for the process to elect the new WFI governing body. 

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