On Friday, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi responded to criticism made by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha of wrestlers who demonstrated in support of Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, saying that “we” should all speak up for “our sportswomen”.
Usha, a Rajya Sabha MP as well, claimed on Thursday that the wrestlers lacked composure because they struck the streets to continue their demonstration against Singh rather than approaching them.
“Our impression is that the IOA has a committee and an athletes’ commission for accusations of sexual harassment. Usha told reporters following the executive committee meeting of the sporting organisation, “Instead of going to the street (again), they should have come to us, but they have not at all gone to IOA.
Usha responded, “Thoda toh discipline hona chahiye (there should be some discipline),” when asked if the IOA will approach the wrestlers given their adamant refusal to leave the protest location until their demands are granted. They went directly to the streets rather than coming to us. It’s detrimental to the sport.
In response to Usha’s remarks, Chaturvedi stated that it damages the nation’s reputation when “MPs accused of sexual harassment go free while the victims have to fight for justice.”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but we must stand up for our sportswomen, not accuse them of tarnishing image when they are the ones who won honours for our nation and gave us reasons to be proud,” the speaker said. Added Chaturvedi.
The three main figures in the resurrected protests against WFI president, who has been accused of sexual harassment and intimidation by the wrestlers, are India’s top three wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik.
The results of the government-established oversight panel have not yet been made public, and the IOA has not finished its investigation into the claims.
Usha was criticised earlier for saying that the wrestlers were “tarnishing India’s image” by Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra. Moitra questioned whether “India smells of roses” in light of the devastating claims made against a member of the ruling party and the Delhi Police’s failure to file a case.
Moitra posted on Twitter, “Wrestlers protesting in the streets are tarnishing India’s image, says @PTUshaOfficial.” She added the hashtag ‘StopCrawling’ and asked, “So ruling party MP chairing WFI for years accused of molestation & abuse of power against whom @DelhiPolice refuses to lodge FIR in spite of SC order makes India smell of roses, does it?”
Meanwhile, Vinesh, the cricket players from India and other prominent athletes have been silent on the subject.
“Cricket is revered throughout the nation, but not a single cricketer has spoken up. We’re not asking you to speak in our favour, but at the very least, say that justice should be served to all parties. This is what hurts… whether it be boxers, cricketers, badminton players, or athletes. The World Championship medalist was quoted by the news agency as stating in an interview.