'Resigning as president of Wrestling Federation of India is not a big deal for me, but I will not resign as a criminal.'
Facing allegations of sexual harassment by seven women wrestlers, WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Saturday said he is ready for "any kind of investigation" but won't resign from his post as it would mean he has accepted the charges against him.
"I am completely innocent and have full faith in Supreme Court and Delhi Police. I am ready to face any kind of investigation," Singh told reporters at his residence in Bishnoharpur, about 40 km from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.
"Resigning as president of Wrestling Federation of India is not a big deal for me, but I will not resign as a criminal."
Taking a strong exception to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's meeting with the wrestlers on Saturday morning, Singh said, "Today it has been seen who is behind this controversy. I have been saying from the beginning that an industrialist and the Congress have a hand in this. They are upset with me." He, however, did not elaborate.
Priyanka Gandhi visited the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and expressed solidarity with them, accusing the government of "protecting" the WFI chief.
Several wrestlers have resumed their agitation and sat on a dharna since April 23, demanding that an FIR be filed against the "Gonda strongman". They also demand that Singh be removed from all posts he holds. The Congress has said that he should be arrested immediately.
On Friday night, Delhi Police registered two FIRs against Singh.
"I'm not a criminal. Resigning means I have accepted their allegations," Singh, the BJP MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh, said.
He claimed all the demands of women wrestlers have been accepted.
"An FIR has been lodged against me, yet they are sitting on dharna. Why?" he asked.
Singh, a sixth-term lawmaker, said his tenure as the WFI chief is complete and he will automatically resign with the election of the new president. He is only playing the role of a "caretaker" till the election.
Singh has completed 12 years as WFI chief and is ineligible to contest for another term.
He asked why are the wrestlers still sitting on dharna now when an FIR has been registered against him.
"Why are they constantly speaking against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Sports Ministry?"
Singh said the ongoing dharna by the wrestlers is not a protest of sportspersons but a protest of the "conspirators".
"They did not wait for the investigation report to be made public and went to the Supreme Court and there raised a new allegation. They are saying that the sport has to be saved but they are not saving the game (by doing this). They have caused a huge loss in the last four months," he said.
He also asked if he had been sexually abusing players for 12 years, why they never took a complaint to the police station, federation or the government till date.
"They went straight to Jantar Mantar," he said.
Singh said he has submitted an audio clip to the probe committee, in which a man is heard speaking about arranging a girl to implicate him.
Stressing that he fully respects the decision of the Supreme Court and the government, Singh alleged the protestors are coming up with new demands every day.
"First they demanded an FIR and now that the FIR has been lodged, they are demanding to put me in jail. I am a member of Lok Sabha. It has not been by the grace of Vinesh Phogat (one of the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar) but the people of my area have made me an MP," Singh said.
Claiming that the entire Haryana and UP akhadas are with him, the MP said it is only "one family's akhada” which is against him.
"I have full faith in the law of the land. I will definitely be proved innocent. It has been troubling me for a long time. I and my family are being abused. Our supporters are also being targeted but my supporters and family have full faith that I am innocent. Soon, the country will also come to know about it," he added.