Wrestlers Babita Phogat and her father Mahavir Phogat today joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in the presence of Sports minister Kiren Rijiju at the party headquarters in New Delhi. The 29-year-old female wrestler had won the gold medal at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. Along with Babita, her father Mahavir Phogat also joined the saffron party. The move comes just ahead of the assembly elections in Haryana slated for later this year, and the Phogats are expected to boost the party’s chances.
MoS of youth affairs and sports Kiren Rijiju welcomed the two popular faces and said that they would continue serving the nation as well as the sport of wrestling even after joining the party. "All of you have seen and heard of Babita Phogat’s achievements. Babita is an inspiration for the youth of India. She can continue wrestling even after joining the party. She will work for the party, work for the country, but will continue to be associated with the sport of wrestling," Rijiju said at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.
The Phogat sisters and their father Mahavir had gained national recognition after Aamir Khan’s film Dangal in 2016. Dangal was based on the life of the Phogat sisters and their father Mahavir.
Rijiju lauded Mahavir for producing champions. "The way Mahavir Phogat has produced champions is commendable. Coming from a small village, he’s brought laurels to the country. I welcome him to the BJP family," the BJP leader said.
Both Babita and her father Mahavir have often been vocal about their support for BJP and its policies. Babita recently came out in support of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar after his remarks on scrapping special status for Jammu and Kashmir sparked an outrage. After the abrogation of Article 370, Khattar said that "people are now saying that path has been cleared and we will bring brides from Kashmir".
Babita had issued a statement urging media to not misinterpret the Haryana CM’s statement. "He has not made any statement that is offensive to our sisters and daughters. I urge the media not to misinterpret his statement," the wrestler was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.