WFI announce elections on August 12, with Maharashtra declared ineligible to participate

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. AFP via Getty Images

The much-delayed elections of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will be conducted on August 12, it was announced on Friday, but the state of Maharashtra will not be part of the poll process as Returning Officer Justice MM Kumar declared that both rival factions were ineligible for participation.

The ad-hoc panel governing the WFI had initially scheduled the elections for July 6 but was forced to reschedule the polls to July 11 after disaffiliated state bodies from Maharashtra, Haryana, Telangana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh approached it for a hearing, claiming that their dismissal was not appropriate.

The panel heard the aggrieved representatives of the state bodies but the polls could not go ahead even on July 11 with the Gauhati High Court staying the elections after the Assam Wrestling Association (AWA) sought the right to participate in the poll process. The Supreme Court then paved the way for elections on Tuesday after staying the Gauhati High Court order.

The electoral college will now have 48 members with voting rights from 24 state bodies and the nominations for posts will be filed on August 1. The scrutiny of the nominations will be conducted on August 2 and a final list of the candidates will be published on August 7. If election is required, voting will be conducted on August 12.

Justice MM Kumar declared that the two rival factions from Maharashtra, led by NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Ramdas Tadas, were ineligible to nominate any of their members to constitute the electoral college.

In the case of Haryana, the faction that has Rohtash Singh and Rakesh Singh as President and Secretary respectively, were included in the electoral college. The claim of the faction, led by Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda, was rejected.

Hamza-bin Omer and K Narsing Rao were added to electoral college from the state of Telangana.

A compromise was reached in the dispute related to Himachal Pradesh with one member each from rival factions finding a place in the electoral college. The current secretary general Jagdish and Kuldeep Rana from the disaffiliated unit were added to the list. Rana replaced president Chander Mohan.

From Rajasthan, current president Umaid Singh and secretary general Nanu Singh were retained while the claim of the faction led by Prem Lochab was rejected.

Earlier, the sports ministry had ordered the WFI to suspend all its activities with immediate effect after appointing an oversight committee to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment of women wrestlers by national body president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has received a bail in the case.

The IOA had appointed an ad-hoc panel to run the day-to-day activities of the federation. Brij Bhushan, who has completed 12 years as president, is ineligible to contest elections as per Sports Code guidelines.