Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose
"Forces involved in 'Tukde Tukde gang', Shaheen Bagh seem to be involved in it (wrestlers' protest). I am not their target, party (BJP ) is their target, these athletes are paid," Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"Protest is expanding like Shaheen Bagh, they want to divide UP and Haryana," he added. Renowned Indian wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik have been sitting on a dharna in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar since 23 April.
The grapplers have demanded the arrest of Singh, against him complaints of sexual harassment have been levied; while the Delhi Police has also registered an FIR in connection to the case.
Earlier, Singh had also claimed that a billionaire industrialist is orchestrating the wrestlers’ protest against him, whilst also stating that his life would be in danger if he publicly names the industrialist.
‘Billionaire Industrialist Orchestrating Protests, My Life Will Be in Danger if I Name'
Singh, however, has claimed innocence, saying that the protests are all but a conspiracy against him.
“They (protesting wrestlers) have been conspiring against me for the last four months – planning what allegations to launch. An industrialist is behind this – whose wealth is in thousands of crores. I can’t take the name publicly, as if I do, my life would be in danger,” he said, while speaking to the media at Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.
Besides alleging external influence over the protests, Singh also claimed that he has an audio recording, where Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia is heard to be searching for female wrestlers who could get him indicted.
“I have an audio recording, where Bajrang Punia is desperately requesting a girl to get anyone who can testify against me. Sakshi and Vinesh have previously said on camera that they have never faced sexual harassment. Yet, during the oversight committee’s testimony recording, they claimed they have been harassed,” he stated.
‘Priyanka Gandhi Unaware of Facts, Lured by Deepender Hooda'
Following wrestlers’ plea for help from all sectors, politicians have also joined the dharna, voicing their support. On Sunday, 30 April, Indian National Congress’ (INC) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal arrived at Jantar Mantar to offer encouragement to the protestors.
Singh, while speaking on Gandhi’s arrival at the dharna, claimed that she is unaware of facts, and has been lured into to matter by Deepender Singh Hooda – another INC politician who is a Member of Parliament (MP) from Haryana.
Priyanka Gandhi is not aware of the facts. Deepender Hooda, who has been writing the scripts since the very beginning, lured Priyanka into this. The day Priyanka will get to know about the truth, once the investigation report is furnished, she will realise that she shouldn’t have gone to the dharna.Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh
Moreover, Singh also challenged Gandhi to contest an election against him by saying “If Priyanka Gandhi thinks that she is a big leader and I am insignificant in her comparison, I openly challenge her to contest against me from any seat.”
‘Ready To Appear Wherever Delhi Police Ask Me To'
Besides his arrest, the protesting wrestlers have also demanded Singh’s resignation from all positions of power. Serving as an MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician said “Have the wrestlers made me MP that I will resign, or have I earned this position because of my region’s people?”
Responding to a query about the ongoing investigation, he added “Delhi Police is yet to get in touch with me. When they do, I am ready to appear wherever they want me to.”