Sports federations have become personal fiefdoms of BJP politicians, alleges Congress
Randeep Surjewala says it is black day for Indian sports when victims of sexual exploitation fail to get justice and tears of Olympians and victims do not affect people in power
The Congress on Friday (22 December) alleged that sports federations have become personal fiefdoms of BJP politicians and questioned the silence of President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the "insult" of sportswoman Sakshi Malik, who quit wrestling after BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's associate became the new Wrestling Federation chief.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said it is black day for Indian sports when victims of sexual exploitation fail to get justice and tears of Olympians and victims do not affect people in power.
He said every tear shed by Malik and other Olympian daughters of India, and victims of sexual exploitation post the election of Singh's aide Sanjay Singh and complete subjugation of the Indian Wrestling Federation is a black spot on sports in India.
"It is a black blot on the future of India's sports, particularly wrestling. It is a black day for Indian sports," he said.
Surjewala said India's daughters now stand on the crossroads of history, where justice is denied to them, where fairness as also recognition of their talent has been subjugated at the altar of politics of BJP, where talent has now been suppressed purely because BJP had to promote its own Member of Parliament.
"The question is, Mr. prime minister, is this the way that the daughters of India's farmers, India's women wrestlers, the daughters of India will be treated in your government," he asked, noting that these daughters of India kept on banging at the door of Parliament for justice and went to Prime Minister of India, Home Minister of India, Sports Minister of India, and to the media.
"The truth is, it is not only the 'Indian Wrestling Federation' but including the Board of Control for Cricket in India, every single sports federation is under the control of BJP leaders or their cronies. The prime minister speaks about that, he has got rid of sports from political intervention but the truth is otherwise and stares the prime minister in his face today.
"Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Modi government could not find a single woman wrestler to head the 'Wrestling Federation of India' or a single seasoned sports player with impeccable credentials, to head the 'Wrestling Federation of India'. They had to find assistant to Shri Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to be elected to the 'Wrestling Federation of India'. Does it not tell you countrymen and women and every aspiring young man and woman that there is no justice," Surjewala said.
He alleged that this injustice is not with Malik it has shattered the dreams of millions-and-millions of girls and daughters of India for, perhaps, they no longer would like to go out to be a participant in the ultimate activities that is sports and wrestling.
"There are simple questions that this country asks - why is the Modi government mum? Why is India's Parliament mum on the insult heaped upon the daughters of India, the daughters of farmers and the tears in their eyes that roll which hurt and lacerate the soul of India?
"Why is it that the President of India, who is a woman herself, is completely silent? Why is it that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and chairperson of the Rajya Sabha are completely mum? Why is it that those who have gained top-notch position in sports and some of whom have become Members of Parliament, nominated and other categories based on their achievement in sports, why is everybody mum," he said.
"Prime minister must come before the nation and must answer to the travesty of justice, subjugation of talent and bulldozing of quality of sports that's happening in this country the symbol of which is Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. I also ask the Honourable President of India, whom we respect immensely to shed all inhibitions and speak up for the daughters of India.
"I also appeal to the speaker of Lok Sabha, and chairperson of the Rajya Sabha to speak for daughters of farmers and the way they have been insulted, forget about your leanings or your preferences and please with folded hands I say- speak up. And I ask every sports man and woman in this country to rise up and to speak up for, if he don't speak up now, then this is perhaps the beginning of the end of sports in this country, along with many other institutions that are falling by wayside," he said.
Olympian boxer Vijender Singh said he can understand the pain of a sportwoman who is feeling dejected for not getting justice. He said when a woman wrestler gets Olympic medals and then gets sexually exploited and does not get justice, one can understand the pain that one undergoes.
"What happened yesterday is a black day for sports in the country," Singh said.
To a question on several cricketers, who are role models for many, not speaking in support of Malik, Vinesh Phogat in their fight against sexual exploitation, he said, people do not know that many fellow players are in government jobs, especially in Haryana, where BJP government is in power.
Singh said people talk about politics, Bollywood and cricket in India, which are very popular, but they never talks about the real issues.
"This is the truth, you all know it, but this is the misfortune of the country...So, choose your role model wisely. Who do you consider as a role model, who answers you on every issue, who always stands with you in your sorrow, choose them as your models and not the one you see on TV," Singh said.