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Commonwealth gold-medallist Babita Phogat and dad join BJP

Babita said she had been a fan of Modi since he swept to power in 2014

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 12.08.19, 10:11 PM
Babita in New Delhi on Monday.

Babita in New Delhi on Monday. Picture Prem Singh

Wrestling star Babita Phogat and her father Mahavir Phogat, whose real-life story had inspired the Bollywood film Dangal, on Monday joined the list of celebrities rushing to embrace the BJP since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s return to power.

Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Babita, 29, said she had been a fan of Modi since he swept to power in 2014 and that the admiration had only increased after the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.


“He (Modi) has written a new chapter in history,” she said.

Mahavir, who coached his four daughters to become wrestlers and is a Dronacharya awardee, was equally effusive.

“The way Modiji took revenge for the Pulwama attack and then scrapped (provisions of) Articles 370 and 35A, he has made history. No other leader or party can do what he has done,” Mahavir said.

Mahavir and Babita are from Haryana, where Assembly elections are due later this year. Either father or daughter might be fielded, BJP sources said. Both are extremely popular in Haryana.

BJP leaders said the feedback from Haryana about the decisions on Kashmir suggested the BJP would win comfortably. They said Babita and Mahavir had been drafted in with the idea of decimating the Congress in the state.

Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju, present at the induction, described Babita as a “youth icon” and promised to use her talents to promote sports.

The rush to join the BJP began in Bengal with defections from the ruling Trinamul Congress, which was followed by the recruitment of a posse of Bengali film and television personalities.

Sine then, the BJP has been able to poach Opposition MPs from the Rajya Sabha, increasing its strength in the House, while denying any role in the rebellion that ousted Karnataka’s Congress-Janata Dal Secular government.

“Prominent people from all walks of life are joining the BJP. They are joining not only here but in every state, district and at polling-booth level,” BJP media head Anil Baluni said.

He claimed it showed how everyone was eager to contribute to nation-building under Modi’s leadership.

“Almost daily people are joining the BJP, inspired by the leadership of Modiji, who has become the world’s most popular leader,” BJP general secretary Anil Jain said.

The BJP claims to be the world’s largest party with 11 crore members and has launched a fresh membership drive with the target of an almost 50 per cent increase. Party leaders said the Phogats’ enlistment would inspire others to follow suit in numbers.

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