BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the wrestling body chief accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers, today said a rally in Ayodhya in his support had been "postponed for a few days while the police are investigating the charges" against him.
Sources in the Ayodhya Administration said the BJP MP did not seek permission for a rally. Instead the request from a group of seers to hold a meeting was "being considered" when Brij Bhushan made the announcement on social media.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the BJP MP from Kaisarganj in UP, had previously announced that he would address the rally on Monday "with the blessings of Sadhus". The move was widely perceived as a show of strength while his party faces growing pressure to sack him.
The MP did not specify what spurred the change of plan, but his Facebook post came as details emerged of the egregious charges listed in FIRs filed against him by wrestlers, who have been protesting for months to push for his removal as the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has denied the charges, claiming he will "hang himself" if the allegations are proven.
In today's post, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh again claimed he was being "falsely accused" by political opponents and their parties.
"Served as a member of the Lok Sabha for the last 28 years with your support. I have tried to unite people of all castes, communities and religions while in power and opposition. These are the reasons my political opponents and their parties have falsely accused me," the BJP MP wrote.
"In the present situation, some political parties are trying to dissolve social harmony by promoting provincialism, regionalism and ethnic conflict by rallies at different places. The purpose is that the decision to hold a saints conference in Ayodhya on 5th June to consider the evil spreading across the society but now while police are investigating the charges and respecting the serious instructions of the Supreme Court the 'Jan Chetna Maharali, Let's go to Ayodhya' program has been postponed for a few days," he said.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh also said "millions of supporters and well-wishers of all religions, castes and sectors have supported me".
In two FIRs, Singh has been accused of touching women athletes inappropriately on the pretext of checking their breath, groping them, asking inappropriate personal questions, and demanding sexual favours.
For the ruling BJP, it has been a tightrope act on an influential party MP. The party has, till now, resisted calls for his sacking, insisting that investigations are on.
""We are handling this issue (wrestlers protest) very sensitively. Whatever the players demanded, we are doing all those things. Necessary action will be also taken once Delhi police file the chargesheet. To all those politicising this issue, I would like to say that the law is equal for everyone and all the players are important to us," said Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said on Thursday.
However, some in the BJP have come out in the wrestlers' favour, including MPs in Haryana and a woman MP in Maharashtra.
"I, not as a member of Parliament, but as a woman, say that if such a complaint comes from any woman, then its cognisance should be taken. It should be verified," said Pritam Munde, a BJP MP from Maharashtra, according to news agency PTI.
"Even though I am a part of this government, it has to be accepted that the way the government should have communicated with the wrestlers has not happened," Ms Munde said.