Sudesh Goyat is a rent-a-cause professional protestor ever ready to agitate against the Modi Government. From OROP protests to Shaheen Bagh and from farmers’ agitation to wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar, she’s been omnipresent. Her presence in the reinvigorated protests pretty much sums up the “apolitical” nature of wrestlers’ protest. Especially so in the way, she heckled legendary sprinter PT Usha. The complicity of wrestlers in this “almost physical attack” on the legend stood out.
The wrestlers’ protest has followed the toolkit to the “T”. It began as an “apolitical protest” against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief in January. After the Sports Minister Anurag Thakur met them and held two rounds of discussions, the strike was called off. Geeta Phogat was named by the agitating wrestlers to be part of the “oversight committee” to look into the allegations against WFI Chief. They were given an extended timeframe to report to the committee. April saw wrestlers continuing with their agitation. Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia also joined and the numbers grew. But politicians have outnumbered wrestlers. Priyanka Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Dipender Hooda, Somnath Bharti, Rakesh Tikait and more. Farmer’s body which agitated to repeal Farm Laws is back. The demands keep changing. From “action against Brij Bhushan” to “arrest Brij Bhushan” to Modi Teri Kabr Khudegi (Modi your grave will be dug), it escalated quickly. Yet, nobody filed a case against Brij Bhushan till SC took suo moto case.
While Vinesh Phogat denied a political motive behind the protest, attempts to make it Jats versus Rajputs has the classic Congress stamp. Considering Haryana and Rajasthan have upcoming elections later this year, the aggressive posturing of Hooda family is quite understandable. In the meantime, Sushil Kumar magnanimously declared, “Different people will bring different slogans. If some people shouted anti-Modi slogans, the wrestlers’ protest should not be seen as political. We’re doing it to give justice to our girls.” Such pure and noble intentions!
Indian Cricket has a precedent. Superstars of cricket stop playing domestic games like Ranji Trophy once they’ve made it big at the international level. For example, Virat Kohli reportedly hasn’t played any Ranji Trophy match since 2011. After a handful of medals collectively in international events, wrestlers have emulated the cricketers. They don’t want to participate in National games against wrestlers from other States , especially Uttar Pradesh. They have emphatically declared, “We aren’t playing Nationals. We’re going straight to Olympics.” That is where Brij Bhushan crossed the line. How dare he force the Olympians to compete at the lowly National Championship? Doesn’t he remember how PM Modi had honoured even those who didn’t win medals? PM had called Vinesh a “family member” because her cousin Geeta had contested Haryana Assembly elections as a BJP candidate.
With such an entitled background of the wrestlers, the audacity shown by WFI President deserves all-round condemnation. If they want to go straight to Olympics, it’s their birthright. Democracy offers entitlement to “great people” in India. Nobody contests against Gandhi family for the post of Congress President. A “free and fair” election is possible only when the Gandhi family members magnanimously decide not to contest. The winner of such an election will be decided by the strength of loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi Family .
Coming back to WFI Chief, there are allegations of misbehaviour and molestation charges against him. But who are the victims? Rather where are the victims? Wrestlers have claimed the number of victims to be more than thousand. Strangely the wrestlers seem to have forgotten their own posturings from the past. Sakshi alleged that Brij Bhushan had misbehaved with her in 2017. But Twitter has brought out photographs of a boisterous and glowing Sakshi sharing the space with her alleged tormentor during her wedding in 2018. These photographs shout out loudly, “Aap Chronology Samajhiye!”
There are also are contradictory statements given by Vinesh Phogat. In an old interview, she claims harassment of women sportspersons isn’t uncommon but she never faced such situations, may be because she’s a wrestler and knows how to protect herself. The case becomes even more complicated when she claims WFI Chief harassed her during the Olympics. Once again, chronology fails her because reports suggest Brij Bhushan wasn’t even there in Tokyo during the period when Vinesh claims to have faced harassment. No wonder, the “Oversight committee” had difficulty in fixing allegations against the WFI Chief because of these “oversights” of wrestlers. Even the presence of Geeta Phogat didn’t help their cause. Hence, the last resort is to convert Jantar Mantar into a resort with posh beds, coolers and other facilities meant for long-term camping similar to Shaheen Bagh and Singhu border. The aim is to drag it till Assembly elections in Haryana and Rajasthan. They aren’t ready to listen to the Government or Supreme Court. They want implementation of Khap verdict.
Can we blame the wrestlers? Don’t we have a dynast who wants to be Prime Minister because his family members “sacrificed” their lives for the country? Isn’t “Idea of India” all about nepotism from Parliament to Supreme Court? Aren’t we a democracy of entitlement?