Divya Kakran landed wrestling bronze in the women’s 68 kg freestyle category but has raised more beef on returning to India than when she did on the mats inside Coventry Arena: the venue for wrestling events in the Commonwealth Games. The Muzaffarnagar-born wrestler, whose father sold loincloths for a living, blasted the Delhi Government for not supporting her when she started as a wrestler, despite winning 58 medals for the state across various national meets.
I come from extreme poverty. I had no money to travel. I would sit next to train toilets, in general bogie to travel for competitions. The Delhi government never helped us. In 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government gave me the Rani Laxmi Bai award. In 2020, they gave me a life-long pension. Yesterday, they announced Rs 50 lakh and a gazetted officer rank post. The UP government helped me, even the Haryana government did. But Delhi never came to help,” she told ANI.
This set off a war of words between political rivals Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla accused the AAP social media team of trolling Kakran and party leader Saurabh Bharadwaj of insulting the wrestler. As per Poonawalla, the AAP leader asked her to produce certificates after she accused the Arvind Kejriwal-led government of being unhelpful. He continued his tirade against AAP and its leaders, alleging that the behaviour was in keeping with the party’s tendency to demean those who bring glory to the country, be it soldiers or sportspersons.
Kakran, presently employed by the Indian Railways, has won the Asian Championships twice- in New Delhi (2020) and Almaty (2021). In Birmingham, she lost to Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist and eventual champion Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu in the quarters. The Nigerian has been a thorn by her side. In the 2018 Games at Gold Coast, she knocked Kakran out of gold medal contention in the semis. The 24-year-old won bronze, repeating the feat four years later. Pitted against Tonga’s Lily Lemalie, she wrapped up the bout within 26 seconds.