The ruling BJP regime has largely been remaining oblivious when it comes to the month-long protests of wrestlers, who won medals for India at international tourneys including Olympics. Wrestlers including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia are demanding the arrest of BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh as he is accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers.
In related to the shocking charges, Delhi Police filed two FIRs against the BJP MP based on the complaints from seven women wrestlers including a minor. One of the two FIRs was filed under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and while POCSO warrants an immediate arrest, Singh was neither detained nor any action was taken against him. The wrestlers demand his arrest but the BJP regime is displaying an apparent apathy in taking action against him.
Brij Bhushan Singh is a six-time BJP MP and has a grim record as a parliamentarian. He has several cases pending against him and behind saving him is BJP's political math as the political observers say that the saffron party is not willing to take action against its own MP at a high time when there are crucial elections ahead including the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The party believes that the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh under sexual harassment charges would spark an anti-Modi wave with women voters and it would also give a talking point for the Opposition parties.
The BJP also thinks that the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh would also trigger a trend of legal troubles for the party across the nation. With the view of keeping Singh's issue and wrestlers protest out of the electorate eyes, the BJP has been organizing several events to mark the start of Modi's tenth year in rule. However, though BJP takes action against Singh or stays inert in the wrestlers protests, the entire nation has been coming against the saffron regime, putting the party in deep water.
A survey has revealed that majority of Indians are supporting the wrestlers and strongly come out to say that the accused BJP MP is not speaking truth. A CVoter survey that was conducted for IANS has revealed that majority of Indians stand behind the wrestlers. Responding to the question in the survey - Looking at the allegations levels by wrestlers and explanations given by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is speaking the truth?, two thirds of the respondents said that the wrestlers are speaking the truth.
While most of the respondents back the wrestlers, just 18 per cent of the respondents expressed that the accused BJP MP was speaking the truth. Notably, more than 54 per cent of those who support and vote for the BJP-led NDA government expressed the opinion that the wrestlers were speaking the truth with more than 20 per cent expressed no opinion. This shows that a section of BJP vote bank is turning against the party by supporting the wrestlers.
Another question in the survey asked the respondents to give their overall opinion on the ongoing dispute between the wrestlers and Brij Bhushan Singh. Responding to this, over 63 per cent of the respondents said that it is a fight to bring out the truth about sexual assault against women wrestlers. While eight per cent of the respondents expressed that they felt like it is a fight for supremacy between wrestlers and the WFI, less than 20 per cent expressed that the wrestlers are being used by the opposition parties for political gains.
While the protesting wrestlers are strongly demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh, he has denied any wrongdoing. Earlier, he vowed, "If a single allegation against me is proven, I will hang myself. If you (wrestlers) have any evidence, present it to the court and I am ready to accept any punishment." Last Saturday, the wrestlers had a late-night meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on their demands and concerns and they were later assured by the Home Minister that the law will take its own course.