The 44th Hind Kesari wrestling (kushti, Indian wrestling) championship took off here on Friday but ministers invited could not make it.
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and dozens of other ministers had been invited. Aurangabad MP and Hind Kesari convener Chandrakant Khaire said they had confirmed their attendance but cancelled it as the model code for the MLC polls in the Marathwada teachers constituency had come into force.
The first Hind Kesari winner Ramchandra Babu inaugurated the event. A music and dance show by Rashtra Kranti Dal showcased Maharashtra tradition. Singers of Swar-Vihar group led by Rajesh Sarkate presented the Maharashtra geet. As many as 400 wrestlers across India have confirmed their participation, besides teams from the Navy, Army, Railway, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force and CRPF, organisers said. This is first sports event at the newly constructed the Divisional Sports Complex.
Wrestlers aired their desire to promote kushti by giving it national game status. "Both hockey and kushti should be national games," said Ramashraya Yadav, president, All India Amateur Wrestling Federation (AIAWF).