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regular-article-logo Thursday, 05 October 2023

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh puts off Ayodhya rally after police withdraw permission

The BJP Lok Sabha member from Kaisarganj made his decision public through a Hindi statement on Facebook on Friday

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 03.06.23, 05:29 AM
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. File Photo

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the wrestling boss accused of sexually harassing women grapplers, has “postponed” his June 5 Ayodhya rally that was to be held with the “support of sadhus”, citing as reasons unidentified political rallies and a “Supreme Court directive” he didn’t specify.

A local police officer who didn’t want to be named told reporters the police had withdrawn permission for the rally at Ram Katha Park “because we realised a small World Environment Day programme was already scheduled there”. He added that the BJP parliamentarian and Wrestling Federation of India president hadn’t applied for an alternative site.

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The BJP Lok Sabha member from Kaisarganj made his decision public through a Hindi statement on Facebook on Friday.

“Some political parties are holding rallies at several places to disturb social harmony by promoting provincialism, regionalism and caste conflict. The idea was to hold a convention of sadhus in Ayodhya on June 5 to discuss the evils being spread in society,” the statement said.

On Thursday, while announcing the rally, Singh had said it was meant to pressure the Centre to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act — invoked against him as one of his seven accusers is a minor — to prevent its misuse.

“The ‘Jan Chetna Maharally, June 5, Ayodhya Chalo’ has been postponed for a few days because the police are investigating the allegations and the serious directive of the Supreme Court has to be respected,” the statement added.

Singh didn’t clarify which apex court order he was referring to, nor which political parties or police investigation he had in mind.

Over the past few days, the powerful khaps of western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have been holding rallies to pressure the Centre to have Singh arrested.

Singh addressed his statement to “my dear well-wishers”.

“I have been serving the Lok Sabha for the last 28 years with your support. I tried to unite all the castes, communities and religion while being in the government and Opposition. This is the reason my political opponents and (political) parties have made a false allegation against me,” the statement said.

The police officer who spoke to reporters said that an “upside down” Ayodhya was inhospitable to rallies and marches currently, with its roads dug up for repairs ahead of the Ram temple inauguration, and with Section 144 in force for over a month.

A Hanuman Garhi sadhu, who declined to give his name, told reporters: “Only a handful of sadhus consented to attend the rally, which Singh had called on the monks’ behalf. Besides, the government cannot afford any controversy here before the Ram temple inauguration and the 2024 parliamentary elections.”

Singh later met some sadhus and thanked them for their support. He said the rally had been postponed “for security reasons”.

A BJP politician in Lucknow, who sought anonymity, said many in the party felt embarrassed because of Singh but there was no indication that the Centre would act against the MP.

“Ajay Mishra Teni remains a Union minister despite his son Ashish being accused of mowing down four farmers and a journalist with his father’s jeep. Teni was never interrogated because he could still win from the Lakhimpur Kheri parliamentary seat and influence some adjoining constituencies,” the politician said.

“Brij Bhushan, too, is ensconced comfortably in Kaisarganj and can bring a few thousand votes for the party in two or three adjoining seats.”

Hansraj Verma, a farmer leader from Brij Bhushan’s hometown Gonda, said the Kaisarganj MP ran several criminal gangs. “His political career depends on the fear his name evokes. He is also among the biggest individual donors towards the construction of the Ram temple. He collected the money from local builders and property dealers who fear him.”

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