The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:40 pm
In the wrestling arena or out of it, fighting as a candidate of the BJP or the Samajwadi Party, in the contest as candidate or with his wife as proxy, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has rarely lost a bout. But that streak might end now, with the growing allegations of sexual harassment against him by women wrestlers, who are demanding Singh’s resignation as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).A wrestler who tumbled into politics via the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and who continues to face a case in the Babri Masjid demolition, Singh, 66, has kept his feet planted on the ground courtesy the image of a “dabangg” leader – or a “shaktishaali (powerful)” one, as he likes calling himself — who doesn’t need the BJP as much as the BJP needs him in at least half-a-dozen districts around his native Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.Singh is six-term MP (once from the SP), who has represented Gonda, Balrampur and now moved onto Kaiserganj, while his son Prateek Bhushan is into his second term as MLA from Gonda Sadar.This formidable record also explains why despite several scraps with the party, including the government of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, there has been no attempt to touch his 10-year tenure as the WFI president and as vice-president of the United World Wrestling-Asia.Local leaders talk about the grand celebrations he holds every year on his birthday on January 8, where students shortlisted via a talent search examination are rewarded with motorcycles, Scooty and cash. This year, the event in Gonda and adjoining districts such as Lucknow, Ayodhya, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur and Barabanki saw the participation of Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary.BJP leaders also mention the goodwill Brij Bhushan Singh has earned due to his active association with more than 50 educational institutions, including engineering, pharmacy, education and law, that that he helped set up in Bahraich, Gonda, Balrampur, Ayodhya and Shrawasti districts.“He has developed an empire in these districts through his clout. He gives a fee waiver to those students who are unable to pay. So, if he wins elections, it is both because of his clout and goodwill,” says a BJP leader from Gonda.At the same time, BJP leaders say, the party has kept its distance by not giving him any position within the organisation and Union government despite his repeated poll wins. His own team of workers look after his constituency including day-to-day issues that might come up.“Singh only takes the symbol of the party. He wins elections on his own,” says another party leader.The confidence means Singh has got away with incidents such as his criticism of the Adityanath government during the floods in the state in October last year. He accused the administration of being ill-prepared, not doing enough for relief, and said people had been left “bhagwan bharose (to the mercy of god)”. Singh also said that the existing government did not tolerate criticism and took it personally.While the Opposition raised the remarks to attack the Adityanath government, Singh did not earn any rebuke from the BJP.He has praised SP leader Azam Khan, one of the BJP’s biggest bugbears in the state, as “a mass leader”, and threatened Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray against visiting Ayodhya till he had apologised publicly for “humiliating” north Indians in Mumbai. The BJP had been courting the MNS leader as an ally at the time of topsy-turvy politics in Maharashtra.In private, the BJP had dismissed Singh’s remarks as publicity stunts.It was due to his association with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and his influence in the areas around Ayodhya that Singh initially came to the notice of the BJP. The party first fielded him from the Gonda Lok Sabha seat in 1991. He won, and never looked back. In 1996, when he did not contest, the party gave a ticket to his wife Ketaki Devi Singh, and she too won.A constant presence at wrestling tournaments, be it national or international, senior or junior, Singh can be spotted with a microphone in hand, overseeing bouts, often shouting out instructions to referees, stopping and starting bouts and, at times, even throwing the rule book at judges. When he can’t be there, he is known to “monitor the proceedings virtually”.Whatever comes of the serious allegations Singh is now facing, that is almost certain to change.
PANAJI: Two days after Union home minister Amit Shah said water-sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka in consultation with the Goa government, two BJP ministers of the Pramod Sawant-led government came down heavily on Shah and said it was “condemnable and unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on water diversion.“I condemn the Union home minister’s statement tooth and nail. We are not against in-basin use of Mhadei’s water. But we are against the water being taken outside its basin by Karnataka for use. It may be anybody, if they speak of out-of-basin use of water of the Mhadei, I will condemn it,” state environment minister Nilesh Cabral said on Monday.State water resources minister Subhash Shirodkar also said Shah’s statement was “unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on diverting the Mhadei water to Karnataka when the Goa delegation had met the home minister.The ministers’ remarks come close on the heels of widespread anti-BJP sentiment on the Mhadei issue with gram sabhas across the state accusing the government of saying one thing and doing another. Cabral, who is also the law minister, said if the Centre did not support Goa, the state has plenty of legal options still available. He said that the House panel formed in Goa will be meeting Shah in Delhi shortly and will ask him when such a consultation was made with Goa.Goa has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop Karnataka from carrying out construction activities based on the detailed project report (DPR) approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on February 13.“The Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal has only given permission to Karnataka to use water for drinking. Now, the statement made (by Shah) is that the water will be used for irrigation. We don’t know what this is,” said Cabral.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah had said at a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Cabral reiterated that chief minister Pramod Sawant had not held any discussion whatsoever with Shah over diverting the Mhadei water in Karnataka’s favour.“I am backing the CM 100% on this. He has not made any such statement (before Shah) and he will not make it. I don’t know how Amit Shah is making this statement,” said Cabral.He said the Goa delegation had earlier gone to meet the home minister in keeping with the legal provision wherein the home minister holds negotiations to resolve any dispute existing between two states.“We don’t have any elections here, so I am condemning his (Shah’s) statement. We have two options. We can resolve it with the support from the central leadership. And if we don’t get support, we have the legal route. We will go to the courts. Ultimately, the judiciary will take all angles into consideration and decide,” said Cabral.“I do not accept the home minister’s statement. When we met him, no such discussion took place. He told us that there are BJP governments in Goa and in Karnataka and that our interests will be taken care of,” said WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.
PANAJI: The preliminary meeting of the House committee to study issues related to the Mhadei water diversion is scheduled on February 8 at 3.30pm. The 12-member committee is headed by WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.The other members of the committee include Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, MLAs from BJP, Congress, MGP, AAP, RG and independent MLAs.Sardesai and Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco had written to Shirodkar to call an immediate meeting of the House committee following Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that BJP has resolved a three-decade old issue by providing water to Karnataka with the help of Goa government.During the recently concluded winter session of the state legislative assembly, chief minister Pramod Sawant had announced a 12-member committee following demands by opposition MLAs.Former CM and ex-speaker Pratapsingh Rane had said, “The House committee must take a quick decision. We are waiting for a quick decision from the committee, else they will go ahead with the work.”
PANAJI: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday that Goa has a strong legal case on the Mhadei issue, and that the state would work towards protecting the river.“Once again I am repeating that we are legally strong in the Mhadei fight, and soon you will see the results,” said Sawant. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the interlocutory application filed by Goa on February 13. The petition seeks to stop Karnataka from construction activities based on the detailed project report approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. tnn Sawant’s statement, after paying floral tributes at the martyrs’ memorial at Azad Maidan, comes in the wake of Union home minister Amit Shah’s declaration that the over three-decade-old Mhadei water sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka with the help of the Goa government.Shah’s comments came even as the state is trying to stop the illegal diversion of the Mhadei by Karnataka. At the four-day winter session, after a seven-hour discussion, the Goa assembly unanimously approved a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the approval granted to Karnataka for the Mhadei diversion.In view of Shah’s statement, village panchayats across the state condemned Shah’s statement. The opposition, too, has demanded that the House committee on Mhadei discusses the issue before it’s too late.The Union home minister on Saturday congratulated the Karnataka CM and the state leaders for having “done a great job by taking along the BJP government in Goa and quenching the thirst of Karnataka by providing Mhadei water”.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah said, addressing a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Earlier, Sawant had led a delegation to Delhi to meet Shah and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to press the state’s demand to withdraw the approval granted to the DPR. The state also demanded the formation of the Mhadei Water Management Authority to stop illegal diversion of water from the Mhadei basin by Karnataka.
PANAJI: The preliminary meeting of the House committee to study issues related to Mhadei water diversion is scheduled on February 8 at 3.30pm. The 12-member committee is headed by WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.The other members of the committee include Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, MLAs from BJP, Congress, MGP, AAP, RG and independent MLAs.Sardesai had written a letter to Shirodkar on Sunday to call an immediate meeting of the House committee following Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that BJP has resolved a three-decade old issue by providing water to Karnataka with the help of Goa government.During the recently concluded winter session of the state legislative assembly, chief minister Pramod Sawant had announced a 12-member committee following demands by opposition MLAs.
Dayanand Mandrekar was a minister in the Manohar Parrikar-led cabinet. (File)Panaji: Former Goa minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dayanand Mandrekar on Friday equated Karnataka's attitude on the Mahadayi river dispute with that of Duryodhana from the epic "Mahabharata", who refused to give any territory to the Pandavas and "bullied everyone".The former water resources minister was addressing a gathering of former legislators on the Mahadayi water diversion issue, where Goa Assembly Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar was present."Goa and Karnataka are neighbours. In our village, we maintain good relationship with our neighbours as we rely on them in good and bad times," said Mr Mandrekar, who was a minister in the Manohar Parrikar-led cabinet between 2012 and 2017.Goa and Karnataka have been embroiled in a dispute for several years now over the distribution of the Mahadayi river water. Goa has taken objection to Karnataka's proposal to construct dams on Kalasa and Banduri tributaries of the Mahadayi river."But looking at the attitude of Karnataka, I recall Satyayug…Duryodhan had said that he will not part with even a needle point of territory for Pandavas. He was bullying everyone," the BJP leader said, adding that the neighbouring state should understand that people are living in a democracy.The Central Water Commission recently approved a detailed project report (DPR) submitted by Karnataka for the construction of the two dams, to which the Goa government has objected.The Goa government has contended that Karnataka cannot divert water from the river, as it passes through the Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located downstream in North Goa.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comEarlier this week, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said that the state government is making efforts on legal, technical and political fronts and leaving no stone unturned to win the battle for Mahadayi river water.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayWatch: Haryana Chief Minister Showcases His Bike Riding Skills