Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
"Resignation is not a big deal but I am not a criminal," said sidelined Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a day after the Delhi Police filed two FIRs based on wrestlers' complaints alleging sexual harassment by Singh.
Several big names from the Indian wrestling fraternity such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia have been on a dharna in protest against the WFI chief at Delhi's Jantar Mantar since Monday, 24 April.
"They [the protesting wrestlers] keep changing their demands constantly. If you hear their versions from January, they wanted me to resign as WFI chief. They said at that time that the resignation means me accepting the accusations," Singh said.
This is the second time that the wrestlers have come out to protest, initially demanding that an FIR be registered against the six-time BJP MP over allegations of sexual harassment. CWG gold medallist Vinesh Phogat and seven other wrestlers even moved the Supreme Court, seeking directions for an FIR to be registered against Singh.
"The tenure is almost getting over. The government has also formed an IOA which will involve a former judge. They are going to oversee the upcoming elections for the committee. When the elections happen, my tenure will automatically terminate," Singh said.
While several prominent Indian sportspersons like Olympic gold medallists Neeraj Chopra and Abhinav Bindra as well as tennis star Sania Mirza have backed the wrestlers, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President PT Usha claimed that wrestlers protesting on the streets is "tarnishing the image of India."
What Else Did Brij Bhushan Say?
Speaking to the media, the BJP leader said that he had come up with an idea for 'open national' to "protect the game." "For the upcoming Olympics, I felt there was a need to tweak the qualifying rules. There are times when the player is unwell but does not disclose it, so that even if they don't win the medal, they'll be called Olympians."
He added that they had formed a committee regarding the matter, and all stakeholders, including players, coaches, and others, were consulted.
"It was decided that those who qualify for Olympics must go through trial rounds here. It was also decided that the national players who win these trials and those who have qualified for the Olympics will also fight each other," he added.