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Friday, October 30, 2020

Babita Phogat quits as sports deputy director to pursue ‘active politics’

Babita Phogat, who had joined BJP last year in August along with her father Mahavir Phogat, had unsuccessfully contested the Haryana assembly elections last year for BJP from Charkhi Dadri assembly seat.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: October 8, 2020 8:02:57 am
haryanaFrom BJP's quota, wrestler-turned politician Babita Phogat has been named chairperson of Haryana Women Development Corporation.(Twitter/BabitaPhogat)

Just over two months after she was appointed as deputy director in Haryana’s Sports and Youth Affairs Department, wrestler Babita Phogat Wednesday resigned from the post, saying she wants to pursue active politics.

“Yes, I have resigned from the post of deputy director sports, Haryana. I had accepted the appointment letter in July early this year when the Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs ministry offered me the post. After contemplating over the issue, I have decided to resign as I want to pursue active politics. As my party wants, I will be campaigning in the upcoming Baroda bypoll in Haryana and Bihar Assembly elections,” Phogat told The Indian Express.

Baroda Assembly seat, which had fallen vacant after the demise of main opposition Congress’ Shri Krishan Hooda in April, is going to polls on November 7. While winning the seat has become a matter of prestige for the ruling JJP-BJP alliance, the Opposition Congress has termed the bypoll result will be a referendum on state’s government’s performance.

Earlier in the day, Phogat — a 2014 Commonwealth games gold medallist and 2018 CWG silver medallist wrestler — in her resignation to the principal secretary of the Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Department cited “unavoidable reasons to continue as deputy director, sports” and requested to consider the letter as one month notice as per the rules stated in her appointment letter.

A senior Haryana sports department official confirmed that they have received the resignation letter. “We will do the needful. Phogat had joined BJP last year and she wants to campaign for the party. It is not possible under the rules and hence she resigned,” the official said.

The wrestler, who had joined BJP last year in August along with her father Mahavir Phogat, had unsuccessfully contested the Haryana assembly elections last year for BJP from Charkhi Dadri assembly seat. At that time, Phogat had resigned from the post of Sub-inspector with Haryana Police to contest the elections.

Phogat, who was earlier appointed as sub-inspector with Haryana Police under sports quota, in 2018 had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking appointment as DSP. The two-time Commonwealth Games medallist had sought the appointment based on her achievements at the international level including a bronze medal in the 2012 World Championships. But she withdrew the petition in July last year, two months before the Haryana elections. Even though she lost to independent candidate Somvir Sangwan, Phogat remained active for BJP in the state.

Kabaddi player Kavita Devi too was appointed as deputy director in the sports department in July following a Punjab and Haryana High Court order but Phogat’s appointment was done considering her sports achievements.

Incidentally, all the gold medalists of 2018 Asian Games and CWG from the state, including athlete Neeraj Chopra, wrestler Bajrang Punia, athlete Manjeet Chahal and others, are still awaiting their appointments to Group A posts as per the latest sports policy. “There should be no discrimination or delay in the appointment of all the medalists of the Asian Games/CWG or other international/national events. It has been two years since we won the gold medals but we are still waiting for job,” said Chahal, who had won the gold medal in men’s 800m in 2018 Asian Games.

The opposition leaders questioned Haryana government’s move to first appoint Phogat as sports deputy director and now her resignation. “My first question to the state government is that why was Babita Phogat appointed on the first place when she became BJP member in August last year and also contested the assembly elections? Did she become a BJP leader today after resigning? We don’t want to belittle her medal winning performances but the appointment was done randomly and even after joining the post, she had been attending BJP programmes. She is saying that she resigned as she wants to pursue active politics. When was she out of politics,” asked Ved Prakash Vidrohi, Haryana congress spokesperson.

Senior congress leader and Tosham MLA Kiran Choudhry too questioned the state government on the issue. “This government has been modifying or making their own rules and the public too understands their tactics. Why should other medalists wait for getting jobs in the state? The public have got to know such steps by the BJP government and the result will be there to see in the Baroda bypolls,” said Choudhry.

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