Will tainted Gopal Kanda be a pain in the BJP’s neck? 

Last Updated 25 October 2019, 14:41 IST

BJP’s desperate bid to cling on to power in Haryana has ‘brought on board’ a controversial MLA, whose involvement in a case of abetment to suicide of an air-hostess has come to haunt the saffron party. Kanda's association with the BJP has helped the party with independents to stay afloat.

With business interests in aviation, hospitality, casinos, reality, footwear, textiles and more, the rag to riches story of 53-year old Gopal Kanda, a school dropout, has an ugly past. Among other controversies, Kanda is facing trial for abetting the suicide of 23-year-old Geetika Sharma, who killed by in her Delhi home in 2012.

Geetika was employed at the now-defunct MDLR Airlines, owned by Kanda.

The prospects of Kanda being on the BJP’s side during the government formation has sparked widespread outrage, amid growing clamour even within the BJP, with leaders like Uma Bharti taking to twitter to caution the party against Kanda’s entry.

Geetika’s brother Ankit Sharma too has reacted strongly, saying the BJP was getting criminals on its side to form the government. “I lost my sister because of this man. Is this what is BJP’s slogan of 'Beti bachao beti padhao',” he asked. It now remains to be seen whether the BJP takes Kanda’s support or manages to form the government with other independents.

From running a radio repair shop decades ago, Kanda moved to other businesses - a shoe shop, footwear factory, MDLR airlines, casinos, reality etc. Kanda finds himself in the same position today as he did in 2009.

Then, he had fought as an independent and won. Interestingly, the Congress under Bhupinder Hooda got the same number of seats (40) as the BJP got this time around in 2019. Hooda, along with Kanda and other independents, managed to form the government. As a quid pro quo, Kanda was made a minister in Hooda’s second term as CM.

Kanda's downfall started in August 2012, when Geetika Sharma committed suicide and left behind a note accused him of being a ‘fraud, cheater who harassed her’. Six months after Geetika's death, her mother also killed herself.

Kanda was later asked to resign amid the growing outrage. BJP leaders also took to streets to protest Kanda’s ouster. Kanda’s past is also surrounded by allegations that a car he owned was used to commit rape. His security guards, it was alleged, beat up a national-level cricketer.

Congress' Randeep Surjewala said, “Look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time Gopal Kanda was a minister in Hooda government. We forced him to resign.”

(Published 25 October 2019, 14:05 IST)

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