Joining the farmers’ agitation against the three agrarian bills, Olympics medallist Vijender Singh has threatened to return the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
As Olympics medallist Vijender Singh threatened to return the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, – India’s highest sporting honour – BJP’s national general secretary BL Santhosh has highlighted his association with the Congress party. The Indian boxer joined the protesting farmers at the Singhu border of the national capital as the ongoing agitation entered its 11th day on Sunday, despite Centre’s efforts to engage in discussions with the peasants.
Claiming that his link with the Congress was ‘conveniently being deleted,’ Santhosh asserted that the Indian boxer had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 on a Congress ticket. Singh ventured into politics in 2019 as he joined the Congress party and contested the Lok Sabha elections from South Delhi, which he lost. Several other sportspersons, including Padma Shri and Arjuna awardees, visited the national capital on Saturday to return their awards to President Ram Nath Kovind, as a mark of protest against the agrarian laws.
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) December 6, 2020
“I’d received training in Punjab & had their ‘roti’. Today when they’re here in cold, I’ve come as their brother. Other athletes from Haryana wanted to come but they have govt jobs & would’ve been in trouble. They say they’re with farmers,” said Vijender Singh while speaking to media on Sunday.
Singh had shot to limelight in 2008 when he won the Bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. The Indian boxer has also grabbed Bronze medals at the 2009 World Championship and 2010 Commonwealth Games. In 2006 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, Singh won the second prize bagging the Silver medal. In 2010, he was also honoured with the Padma Shri – India’s fourth-highest civilian award.
Apart from Vijender Singh, former captain of the Indian hockey team and two-time Olympian Pargat Singh also decided to return the Padma Shri award he received in 1998. Arjuna awardees Sajjan Singh Cheema and Rajbir Kaur, Padma Shree awardee Kartar Singh, Olympic medallist Gurmail Singh and former cricket coach Rajinder Singh have also decided to return their awards back to the Union Government.
Next round of talks on December 9
Addressing the media on Saturday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced that the next round of talks with farmer leaders will be held on December 9. Asserting that the Minimum Support Price system will continue, he expressed that the Centre’s willingness to address concerns regarding this. Moreover, Tomar stated that the Union government will deliberate on all the demands of the farmers. On this occasion, he highlighted the initiatives of the Modi government for ensuring the welfare of farmers and reiterated that it had no intention of abolishing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees.
Despite the Centre’s repeated assurance and appeals, the farmers’ unions have remained stern on continuing with the protest. The unions have issued a call for Bharath Bandh on December 8, Tuesday, which has been supported by several political parties across the country. Indian Tourist Transporters Assn (ITTA) & Delhi Goods Transport Association have also called for strike on December 8 in solidarity with farmers’ protest in Delhi. “51 unions decided to support farmers. Farming & transporting are like 2 sons of a father,” ANI quoted Satish Sherawat, President of ITTA.