Disputes related to wrestling administration increased Singh’s problems but supporters did not leave him
Wrestling Federation of India president and six-time Lok Sabha MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is one of the dwindling ranks of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians, who share their views with their fighting spirit and swagger in the divergent worlds of their favorite sport and politics. belong to Facing serious allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation from some of the country’s most prominent wrestlers, the 66-year-old sports administrator has rejected calls for his resignation, terming the allegations the work of political and corporate rivals.
Under pressure from top BJP leaders, however, Singh has agreed to recuse himself from the day-to-day affairs of the federation and an inquiry has been ordered against him. He can, however, be expected to make every effort to retain his firm grip on the sports body. Along with this, he will try to strengthen his political fiefdom in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district and its surrounding areas. Singh, associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and later an accused in the Babri demolition case, became a Member of Parliament for the first time in 1991.
He is known for his ‘powerful’ image in the region with immense wealth and amassing a vast network of around 50 educational institutions. His supporters owe direct loyalty to him rather than party or ideology. His institutions are being run in districts like Bahraich, Gonda, Balrampur, Ayodhya and Shravasti. He has a helipad in his huge mansion at his native place and is fond of expensive cars and vehicles. He has represented Gonda and Balrampur in the Lok Sabha and has been winning from Kaiserganj since 2009.
Angered by the BJP leadership, he voted in favor of the confidence motion moved by the then Manmohan Singh government in 2008 and then contested and won the elections in 2009 on a Samajwadi Party ticket. This was his only parliamentary stint outside the BJP but he always had respect for the late Samajwadi Party mentor Mulayam Singh Yadav. He was often seen seeing Yadav off at the Parliament gate. He is the President of Wrestling Federation of India since 2012.
His passion for this game can be understood from the fact that he can speak his mind to the referee, coach and players, leaving behind the decorum during the matches. A video of him slapping a young wrestler in Ranchi went viral in 2021. The wrestler tried to plead his case with him. The officials then claimed that the player was over-aged and wanted Singh to help him as he was training at one of the centers run by them.
On the one hand, the game which he loves and rules, on the other hand, he never hesitated to keep his opinion different from the opinion of the party in politics. A Union minister had faced his wrath last year after he did not give an appointment to Singh. Singh also criticized the Uttar Pradesh government, led by a fellow Thakur community leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, for its handling of the floods during the last monsoon. He grabbed headlines by saying that people have been left to the mercy of God.
Singh had single-handedly foiled Maharashtra leader Raj Thackeray’s plan to visit the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He mobilized people in his area against Thackeray’s visit by running a campaign citing attacks against North Indian migrants in Mumbai. Singh angered many leaders in his party when he warmed up to Raj Thackeray to counter the Shiv Sena led by the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
On the controversy over the comments of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, he called for a law against remarks targeting any religion and religious figures. The countries that believe in Islam were enraged by Nupur’s statement. Locals credit him for helping underprivileged students with scholarships and free studies. There have been claims that he has ensured that most students exit educational institutions with ‘successful’ degrees, irrespective of the mode of examination.
He has unexpectedly faced allegations of running a ‘copycat mafia’. He faces several criminal charges including links with members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. Singh’s son is a sitting MLA and his wife is a former MP. He has faced over three dozen cases and two of them are still pending. He was booked four times till 1993 under the UP Gangster Act and once under the Dangerous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).
He was arrested along with senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and others after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. He was, however, acquitted by a court in 2020 in this case. No one can predict, but it is certain that he will not sit quietly for long.