New Delhi: Gopal Kanda, the newly elected MLA from Sirsa, was quick to board a chartered plane for Delhi on Thursday evening within hours of bagging the seat. The businessman-turned-politician is a controversial figure in Haryana politics who won this election by a slender margin, defeating an Independent candidate by less than 1,000 votes.
A small-time vendor of footware in Sirsa, Kanda's rise in state politics was mercurial. Benefiting from flourishing real estate business in the National Capital Region, Kanda's clout grew when Om Prakash Chautala became chief minister in 1999. He was said to be close to Chautala's elder son Ajay.
Soon, he would make foray into aviation sector when he registered the MDLR Airline name after his father Murli Dhar and son Lakhpat Ram.
His political ambitions growing, Kanda sought a ticket for himself from the INLD in 2009. He was refused nomination, so he contested as an Independent and won the Sirsa seat by more than 5,000 votes.
There was no looking back after that. Short of majority in his second term, Bhupinder Singh Hooda welcomed Kanda, who would even go on to become a junior minister in the cabinet.
But a suicide note left by an air hostess with MDLR Airlines triggered Kanda's downfall. He was accused of abetment to suicide. Kanda was on the run, but finally surrendered before the court. He was released on bail in 2014. Within one year, the woman’s mother also committed suicide.
The abetment to suicide case is still pending before the courts.
However, this did not hamper his political aspirations. In 2014, he founded the Haryana Lokhit Party and contested unsuccessfully in the assembly elections of 2014. He lost to Makhan Lal Singla of the INLD.
In 2019, however, Kanda is one of the eight MLAs in a position to lend support to the saffron party, which fell short of majority in the 90-seat Assembly.
The rags-to-riches and hawai chappal-to-hawai jahaaz story of Gopal Kanda has taken yet another turn with the BJP desperately seeking MLAs to cross the magic mark in the Haryana assembly.