Controversial Haryana leader Gopal Kanda has emerged as kingmaker in the government-formation exercise in the state where the Assembly election results presented a hung house with BJP as the single-largest party.
Kanda, facing allegations of rape and abetment of suicide of an air hostess dating back to 2012, was seen in the company of BJP Lok Sabha member Sunita Duggal, who escorted him and another newly-elected Haryana legislator to Delhi last night as BJP began shoring up numbers before staking claim to form the government.
Kanda, the lone legislator of his Haryana Lokhit Party, claims to have the support of five legislators and is learnt to be in negotiations with the BJP leadership on the government formation exercise. Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar arrived in the national capital on Friday morning to join the discussions.
Kanda, who won the Sirsa assembly seat, was accompanied by Ranjeet Singh, the brother of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, who won the Rania seat.
Incidentally, in 2009 when the then Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda was short of numbers, he too had leaned on Kanda for support in forming the government.
Hooda had appointed Kanda as a minister in his government, but had to quit after an airhostess in the airline run by him, accused him of harassment in her suicide note in 2012. Kanda was arrested soon and had to quit as minister.
Congress issued a warning to the independent MLAs who were in talks with the BJP for joining the new Khattar government.
“They are digging their own political grave. They are selling the trust of the people,” Deepender Singh Hooda, the son of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, told reporters here.
BJP won 40 seats in the Haryana Assembly elections, six short of the majority. The BJP was in talks with six Independent legislators and a few others to bridge the gap required to form the government.