Congress slams PM Modi after sexual harassment accusations on WFI chief

The players have made serious allegations of exploitation against the Wrestling Federation and its president and their voices should be heard: Priyanka Gandhi

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Priyanka Gandhi

Priyanka Gandhi | Photo: Twitter (@INCIndia)

The Congress Thursday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the sexual exploitation allegations against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, asking if this is the "better environment" for sports that has been created by the government.

The opposition party's attack came after star wrestler Vinesh Phogat Wednesday alleged that Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Singh has been sexually exploiting women wrestlers for years, a charge vehemently rejected by the sports administrator.

In a tweet in Hindi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, "Our players are the pride of the country. They bring laurels to the country by their performance at the world level."

The players have made serious allegations of exploitation against the Wrestling Federation and its president and their voices should be heard, she said.

In a tweet in Hindi, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said, "The list of BJP leaders who have committed atrocities on daughters is endless. Was 'Beti Bachao' a warning to save daughters from BJP leaders! Prime Minister, please answer."

"Mr Prime Minister, why are all those who commit atrocities on daughters from the BJP," he asked.

Ramesh also said, "Yesterday, you said that a better environment has been created for sports in the country. Is this the 'better environment' in which even the daughters who bring laurels to the country are not safe?"

Inaugurating a sports event in Uttar Pradesh via video conferencing on Wednesday, Modi said, "Many talents remained away from the field. But in the last eight years, the country has left behind this old thinking. Work has been done to create a better environment for sports, so now more children and youths are looking at sports as a career option."

Phogat, who has been at loggerheads with the WFI since the Tokyo Olympic Games, also claimed that several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow have also exploited women wrestlers, adding that there are a few women at the camp who approached the wrestlers at the behest of the WFI president.

The 28-year-old, however, clarified that she never faced such exploitation but claimed that "one victim" was present at the 'dharna' they began at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.

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Rio Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, world championship medallist Sarita Mor, Sangeeta Phogat, Anshu Malik, Sonam Malik, Satyawart Malik, Jitender Kinha, Amit Dhankar and CWG medallist Sumit Malik were among 30 wrestlers who assembled at the famous protest site.

Singh, 66, was elected unopposed President of WFI for a third consecutive term in February 2019. Taking note of the allegations, the sports ministry has sought an explanation from WFI and directed it to "furnish a reply within the next 72 hours on the allegations made".

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Jan 19 2023 | 1:17 PM IST

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