Wrestlers' Protest: Jat BJP Leader Says Party Will Suffer Politically if Issue Is Dragged

Chaudhary Birender Singh, former Union minister and a prominent BJP Jat leader from Haryana, told 'The Wire' that the inquiry must be swift and satisfactory.

Chandigarh: With no action taken against Wrestling Federation of India president and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, despite serious allegations of sexual harassment against him and a sustained protest calling for his arrest by the country’s top wrestlers, the party’s Jat leaders in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are in a bind.

The community has fostered wrestlers and is now caught between party and sport.

Breaking his silence on the issue, Chaudhary Birender Singh, former Union minister and a prominent BJP Jat leader from Haryana, told The Wire on Saturday, June 3, that if this issue is dragged, the party may suffer politically.

Party ko nuksaan hai,” he said.

He did not elaborate on how the party could suffer but stressed that the inquiry against Singh must be swift and fair. “The findings of the inquiry must be satisfactory to complainants, who must also feel that action was taken without any prejudice,” he said.

“Nearly half of the electorate in India are women. If we talk about women empowerment, we should act on it too,” he added.

His statement came a day after a khap mahapanchayat (a gathering of different communities of Jats) in Kurukshetra demanded the arrest of Singh and gave the government time till June 9 to make this happen.

According to one of the two FIRs Delhi police registered on the wrestlers’ complaint, a top woman wrestler had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in person, as far back as 2021, about the “repeated sexual, emotional, physiological, physical trauma” she had allegedly faced in the hands of Singh.

Birender Singh in a statement to The Print on Saturday stated he met party national president J.P. Nadda just days before the Karnataka assembly polls and told him that the wrestlers’ issue was serious.

About a week later, Singh said, he also reminded Nadda about the issue he had discussed.

“I told Nadda unequivocally that if the party has some political calculations in mind for ignoring to take action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh [who is party’s Rajput face in parts of UP], then they are mistaken…they will have to pay for this,” he said.

‘Might affect Hindutva consolidation’

Dr Kushal Pal, a political analyst and head of Political Science department at Karnal’s Dyal Singh College, told The Wire that if the issue is not resolved at the earliest, it might hamper the party’s Hindutva consolidation in UP, turning it into a ‘Jat versus Rajput’ issue. In Haryana too, while Jats have made it an issue of their pride, it has support of non-jats too, although it is silent so far.

“I spokes to several non-Jat people who were surprised at the handling of this issue, which otherwise could have easily handled without delay,” he said

Pal said that BJP may have been emboldened by the fact that it did not suffer a major political setback in the UP assembly elections held months after the farm law protests in early 2022. 

“It did not affect BJP much then because the farmers’ protest was still mostly Punjab-centric and the party withdrew the bills before the UP elections. But this issue is different. Jats otherwise might come from a patriarchal society but they now take pride in their girls achieving so much in sports and other spheres,” he added.

Some are also noticing with discomfort as to how this matter is going beyond community. Members of the India’s 1983 cricket World Cup winning team came out in support of the protesting wrestlers, Pal reminded.

Protesting wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, had reached Haridwar on May 30 to throw their medals into the river Ganga at Har ki Pauri, but they were stopped by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.

The cricketer’s statement read, “Those medals have involved years of effort, sacrifice, determination, and grit and are not only their own but the nation’s pride and joy. We urge them not to take any hasty decision in this matter and also fervently hope that their grievances are heard and resolved quickly. Let the law of the land prevail.”