Protesting wrestlers call for Mahapanchayat in Haryana

The wrestlers met Thakur and agreed to suspend their agitation till June 15


Days after their meeting Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, the protesting wrestlers have called for a Mahapanchayat in Haryana. They also told the media that the details of their interaction with Thakur will remain private, and that they would discuss it with those who are with them in the ongoing agitation.

The wrestlers met Thakur on Wednesday and agreed to suspend their agitation till June 15 after he assured them that a chargesheet against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will be filed by then and the WFI elections will be held by the end of the month.

The top wrestlers of the country, including Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat and Olympic medallists Sakshee Malikkh and Bajrang Punia, have been protesting against Singh and demanding his arrest for allegedly sexually harassing female grapplers.

As per PTI, Punia and Malikkh have reached Sonipat for the mahapanchayat.

The influential Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) had earlier reiterated its support to wrestlers. BKU leader and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said the farmers' community would stand by the wrestlers. BKU had suspended their demonstartion in Delhi on June 9, in view of the meeting between the Centre and the wrestlers.

Tikait had announced the Delhi 'dharna', demanding arrest of BJP MP and WFI chief Singh during the Mahapanchayat held in Kurukshetra on June 2. They had threatened to step up the agitation and bring the protesting wrestlers back to Delhi's Jantar Mantar, if the government doesn't act.

First step taken towards WFI elections

With the government setting a June 30 deadline for WFI elections, the IOA ad-hoc committee has taken the first step towards conducting the impending polls by gathering the voters list, which will be required to form the electoral college.

The third member of the ad-hoc committee - a retired high court judge under whose supervision the elections will be conducted - is yet to be appointed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

"The judge will be appointed soon. We are already on the job. We have got the voters list from the previous set up," an IOA source told PTI.

The IOA, on the instruction of the sports ministry, had formed the ad-hoc committee on April 27 to manage the day-to-day affairs of the federation and also conduct its elections.

The committee took charge on May 4 and is tasked with completing the election process within the 45-day deadline from the formation of the panel.

The deadline ends on June 17 and it is clear that it can't be honoured since the WFI elections will be held in a Special General Meeting (SGM) which can be called after issuing a 21-notice period to state units affiliated with the national federation and only eight days are left for the cut-off date.

The committee is planning to issue election circular in a day or two.

The WFI has 25 affiliated units, including union territories Chandigarh and Delhi. Each state unit can send two representatives and each representative shall have one vote. So, the electoral college for the WFI elections will consist of 50 votes.

The state units can nominate only those representatives who are members of their executive bodies, according to the WFI constitution.

Thakur had assured the wresters that the government will not allow any of the family member or associates of Singh to contest elections, following which the wrestlers had halted their stir till June 15.

It remains to be seen what happens if the eligible candidates associated with Singh file their nomination for the elections.

Singh's son Karan was vice president in the previous WFI setup and is also associated with the UP wrestling association. His son-in-law Vishal Singh is the president of the Bihar Wrestling Association.

They are both eligible to contest as state body representatives.

The ah-hoc panel will announce the schedule for elections. There will be a day to file nominations and after scrutiny candidates will have the option to withdraw their nominations. Then a final list of candidates will be published and if more than one candidate file nominations for a particular post, it will require elections.

Singh, 66, is ineligible to contest since he has already completed 12 years as president.

The Sports Code does not allow more than three terms of four years each.


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