What makes Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh seemingly invincible?

By making sure his aide, Sanjay Singh, becomes the WFI president, Brij Bhushan Singh has shown that he will continue to wield power in the federation through the new president.

BJP MP and former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhashan Sharan Singh (photo: National Herald archives)
BJP MP and former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhashan Sharan Singh (photo: National Herald archives)


The results of the elections of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) seem to reaffirm the fact that the apparently invincible shield that BJP MP and outgoing WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh wears, comes from the influence he wields in half a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. And the fact that Lok Sabha elections are only a few months away only adds to his importance.

Singh's strong links with various influential saints, and his role in the Ayodhya temple movement, make him stronger than many other MPs in the BJP.

The dozens of educational institutions that he owns in eastern Uttar Pradesh add to his vote bank and have helped create a climate in favour of the six-term MP, who has weathered the storm of allegations of sexual harassment from many of India's female wrestlers.

As WFI president, Singh faced protests from wrestlers on the issue, and Delhi Police filed two cases against him after the Supreme Court ordered it to do so. One of the FIRs was over a complaint of sexual harassment of a minor, filed under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which gives no scope for bail. Yet, Delhi Police made no efforts to arrest Singh, who insisted he would face an inquiry rather than resign "as a criminal".

The BJP, which claims to be firm on discipline, has apparently turned the proverbial Nelson's eye to Singh's behaviour. And now, by ensuring the election of his aide Sanjay Singh as WFI president, Singh has proved to his detractors that he will continue to wield power in the federation.

Long before he took over as WFI president in 2011, however, Singh was known for his arm-twisting tactics. A key player in the Ayodhya movement, he was known as a one-man army for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, at a time when the party had a minimal presence on the state's political centrestage.

Born in Gonda in 1957, Singh's interest in politics began as a college student in the 1970s, but he entered politics with a vengeance when senior BJP leader L.K. Advani came to Gonda with his rath yatra during the Ayodhya movement. Singh offered to 'drive' Advani's rath, and this catapulted him to instant fame within the BJP.

Singh won his first election in 1991, defeating Raja Anand Singh from Gonda. The following year, he was named as an accused in the Babri demolition case, which consolidated his 'pro-Hindu' image. He was acquitted along with others in 2020. This image brought the saints of Ayodhya out in his support when he faced allegations from the wrestlers earlier this year.

Elected to the Lok Sabha six times from Gonda, Balrampur and Kaiserganj, Singh still remains known more for his muscle power than his political acumen. Indeed, there was a time when he was named in more than three dozen criminal cases.

In 1996, he was accused of sheltering associates of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, booked under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act and jailed. During his stint in prison, the late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee allegedly wrote to him, asking him to take courage and "remember Savarkarji who was sentenced to life imprisonment".

Later, he was acquitted in the case, primarily owing to lack of evidence. In 1996, again while he was still in jail, the BJP gave the Lok Sabha ticket to his wife Ketaki Singh, and she also won by a handsome margin.

Singh's clout has apparently only grown after the turn of the century, so has his money power. His brazenness is evident from the fact that during the 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Singh admitted in an interview to a TV channel that he had committed one murder — something that even the most dreaded criminals would probably not say on camera.

In the interview, Singh claimed he had shot the man who killed his friend Ravindra Singh, brother of Pandit Singh, with whom the MP had a long-running feud until the man died in 2021. "I pushed the man who shot Ravindra Singh and shot him dead," he added.

Earlier, in 2009, Brij Bhushan had briefly parted ways with the BJP and joined the Samajwadi Party, but returned to the BJP before Modi's victory in 2014. As Brij Bhushan's stature grew within the BJP, his 'business' also flourished. He owns around 50 schools and colleges and has interests in mining, besides dabbling in liquor contracts, the coal business, and also real estate. Singh is also known to gift motorcycles, scooters, and money to students and supporters on his birthday every year.

His appointment as president of the WFI in 2011 further added to his 'weight'. In December 2021, he did not think twice before slapping a wrestler on-stage during an event in Ranchi.

The kind of clout that Singh wields within the BJP is evident from the fact that he has even hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government in UP and accused the bureaucracy of making elected representatives "touch their feet". He also criticised the state government's lack of preparedness for floods.

Political analysts are actually bewildered by the lack of action against Singh by Adityanath, who is known to take the bull by the horns. "One can simply not understand Yogi Adityanath turning a blind eye to Singh's activities. It has to be pressure from the top that is preventing the chief minister from turning his bulldozer towards Singh's kingdom," said a party functionary.

The fact that no action — not even a word of disapproval — was forthcoming in the matter, only seems to have made him bolder. "Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh believes he is invincible and does not fear even his own party leadership. No one dare criticise him, and even journalists keep a safe distance from him. The police bow before him. The clout he wields must be seen to be believed," said one of his former supporters.

With Lok Sabha elections just a few months away, the BJP is unlikely to target Singh. Even his detractors now admit that the story of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is far from over. In fact, many say it has just begun and he is a man to watch out for in politics in the coming months.

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