‘Impressed’ by sports policy, boxer Vijender Singh joins BJP : The Tribune India

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‘Impressed’ by sports policy, boxer Vijender Singh joins BJP

‘Impressed’ by sports policy, boxer Vijender Singh joins BJP

Boxer Vijender Singh joins the BJP at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, April 3

The saga of shock defections from the Congress to the BJP continued on Wednesday with Vijender Singh, India’s first boxer to win an Olympics medal, making the switch and calling it a “well thought out decision”.

Backed farm stir

  • Vijender Singh was a strong supporter of the 2020-21 farmers’ stir
  • Threatened to return Khel Ratna if the Centre didn't withdraw farm laws
  • Also backed women wrestlers against BJP MP and WFI ex-chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh

Only a few hours ago, Vijender (38) had endorsed a post by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Asked about his overnight change of heart, he said, “I slept after reposting that message and when I woke up, I felt joining the BJP was the right thing to do.”

Hailing from Haryana’s Bhiwani district, Vijender had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from South Delhi constituency on the Congress ticket and lost to BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri.

Of late, he was widely anticipated to be the Congress candidate opposite actor Hema Malini in Mathura where Jats, a community the pugilist represents, have a strong electoral presence. Sources on the Congress side said dilly-dallying on his candidature could have irked him into Wednesday’s surprise switch to the saffron side considering his consistent opposition to the BJP.

Vijender had in 2020 declared that he would return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (later named after Major Dhyan Chand) if the government did not withdraw “black farm laws”. He also backed the cause of women wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik against BJP MP and former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. But Vijender appeared comfortable in his defection today.

“I touched base with the BJP through a common friend. They welcomed me. I was impressed with the work the government has been doing for sportspersons over the last decade. And I thought why not? I feel I can contribute to the cause, especially for sportspersons who hail from Haryana, which is my home,” said Vijender, who won a bronze in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He later won bronze at the 2009 world championships and then at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In the 2006 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, he bagged silver and in the 2010 Asian Games, he won a gold.

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