WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment by India's top wrestlers, on Sunday claimed the athletes' protest at Jantar Mantar is being driven by the politicians from day one.
The country's top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, have been protesting since April 23, demanding criminal action against Singh for alleged sexual harassment and intimidation of seven wrestlers including a minor.
A FIR has also been filed against the BJP MP.
Politicians such as Congress party's Priyanka Gandhi and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary, former Jammu and Kahsmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, Delhi government ministers Atishi Singh and Suarbah Bhardwaj have visited the protest site to extend their support to the athletes in the last few days.
"This battle has gone beyond the athletes now as political parties have become part of it. From day one of the protest, I felt that this protest was politically motivated and not the voice of the athletes. They have been influenced by politicians.
"It is clear that these athletes are being used by Congress and other opposition parties. It's evident since the beginning that their (protesting wrestlers) motive is politics, not (my) resignation," Singh told reporters.
“I am completely innocent and have full faith in Supreme Court and Delhi Police. I am ready to face any kind of investigation. Resigning as president of the Wrestling Federation of India is not a big deal for me, but I will not resign as a criminal. If I resign, it would mean that I have accepted their allegations,” Singh said.
Singh said the wrestlers were moving the goalposts. “Every day they are coming up with new demands. They wanted an FIR and that has been done. Now they are saying I should be sent to jail and resign from all posts.”
“I am an MP because of the people of my constituency and not because of Vinesh Phogat. Only one family and akhara are protesting. Why aren’t people from any other place complaining?”
Political support poured in for the wrestlers, with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra among politicians visiting Jantar Mantar to express solidarity on Saturday. Representatives of various regional and national political parties, farmers’ unions, and community leaders have been coming to the protest throughout the week.
Former Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, a part of the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) seven-member committee to probe the wrestlers' allegations, said that FIRs have been registered and now the grapplers should focus on their practice.
The Delhi Police on Friday registered two FIRs against WFI president Singh over allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation of female wrestlers by him. Top Indian grapplers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and many other wrestlers are involved in the protest against the WFI chief. Over the last seven days, the wrestlers have slept and trained at the protest site near Jantar Mantar in the national capital.
"The wrestlers should have taken this step 3 months ago. FIR has been registered, now the wrestlers should focus on their practice. Even the prime minister does not have the right to punish only the court does," Yogeshwar Dutt told the reporters.