It's a well thought out decision: Vijender Singh on switch from Congress to BJP

Boxer and former Congress leader Vijender Singh being greeted by BJP leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri as he joins the party ahead of Lok Sabha elections, at BJP HQ in New Delhi, Wednesday, April 3, 2024.
Boxer and former Congress leader Vijender Singh being greeted by BJP leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri as he joins the party ahead of Lok Sabha elections, at BJP HQ in New Delhi, Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

New Delhi | Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh on Wednesday justified his switch from the Congress to the BJP, saying he made a "well thought out decision" after connecting with the saffron party through a common friend.

Singh had joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and was widely perceived to be close to Rahul Gandhi, who also attended his wedding in 2011.

Speaking to PTI after he was officially inducted into the BJP at its headquarters here, the boxer said, "It's not like I have done something all of a sudden. I have been observing a few things for the past several days and I felt this is the right time to move to the BJP."

The 38-year-old Haryana boxer, who now plies his trade in the professional circuit, has been a trailblazer inside the ring and has to his credit, Indian boxing's first Olympic medal -- a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The decision to switch sides came amid speculation that he was being considered by the Congress for a Lok Sabha ticket from Mathura to fight BJP's sitting MP and actor Hema Malini.

"I got in touch with the BJP through a common friend and they were welcoming. I was impressed with all the work that the central government has done for sportspersons over the last 10 years. And I thought why not?

"I feel I can contribute to the cause, especially for sportspersons who hail from Haryana. It is my home after all and I want to help make things better," said the boxer, who also holds the distinction of being India's first male world championship medallist -- a bronze in the 2009 edition in Italy.

Asked if the move was triggered by any dissatisfaction with the Congress party, Singh said, "That is a discussion for some other day. Yes, I will talk about those things too but not today. It's a fresh start I am making and I would want it to be on a positive note."

Earlier, Singh had contested from the South Delhi seat on a Congress ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but lost to BJP's Ramesh Bidhuri and overall finished third in the contest.

He has been a vocal critic of the BJP government on social media platforms and supported the wrestlers who levelled sexual harassment allegations against former BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

"The cause of sportspersons is close to my heart and by joining the BJP, I think I will have a better chance of making things better for them. It's a choice that I have made and I will campaign for the party wherever I am asked," he said.

Singh was last seen inside a boxing ring in 2022. He has appeared in 14 professional bouts, winning 13 fights, nine of them being knockouts.

In his amateur career, aside from the medals at the Olympics and world championships, he claimed a gold at the 2010 Asian Games besides being a multiple-time Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships medallist.

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