3 Olympians take poll plunge from BJP podium in Haryana assembly elections
For the first time in the history of Haryana’s electoral politics, three Olympians will be testing the waters in the October 21 assembly elections. The ruling BJP has given tickets to Olympic medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games champion wrestler Babita Phogat and hockey Olympian and former India captain Sandeep Singh.
All three sportspersons were given jobs in Haryana Police under the sports quota during the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government and they recently resigned to join electoral politics.
The BJP has fielded Yogeshwar, who had won a bronze in the London Olympics, from Baroda constituency in Sonepat district. Former hockey stalwart Sandeep will be BJP candidate from Pehowa in Kurukshetra and Bollywood movie Dangal-fame Babita is the party pick from Dadri segment that falls in the newly carved Charkhi Dadri district.
Yogeshwar, a native of Bhainswal Kalan village of Baroda constituency, has a celebrity status in Sonepat district, which is known as the Mecca of wrestling.
Babita, who is the daughter of legendary coach Mahavir Singh Phogat — whose character was played by Amir Khan in Dangal — hails from Balali village that falls under the Badhra constituency. But since the constituency has a sitting BJP MLA, she has been fielded from neighbouring Dadri. The Phogat clan has 19 villages that fall under the Dadri constituency, which gives her an edge. Babita’s father had earlier joined Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party and was also named its sports cell in-charge, but he, along with his daughter, later joined the saffron party.
“It’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work that inspired me to join the BJP. Hope, as in wrestling, I will make the people proud in electoral politics too,” says Babita, whose mother had been sarpanch twice.
Former Indian hockey skipper Sandeep, who was seriously injured after being hit by an accidental gunshot in Shatabdi Express in 2006 only to make a gritty comeback, hails from Shahbad, but he will be contesting from the Sikh-dominated Pehowa seat. Sandeep’s injury and his comeback inspired Bollywood movie Soorma in which Diljit Dosanjh played the main character.