BJP enlisting Gopal Kanda's support in Haryana is political turnabout at its worst: Party forgets 2012 protests as it turns to HLP chief to play saviour

  • BJP seeking Kanda's support was met with very strong opposition, not just from the Opposition parties, but also from within the BJP. Uma Bharti warned the party against depending on Kanda's support to form the government

  • Look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time Gopal Kanda was a minister in the Hooda-led government. We forced him to resign and removed from ministership. What was the BJP's stand then, said Congress

  • Kanda has not been acquitted by any court. He is free to contest elections, but winning elections does not exonerate him, noted Bharti in one of her eight tweets addressed to the BJP leadership

  • Gopal Goyal Kanda epitomises everything Congress stands for, BJP's IT cell head Amit Malviya had tweeted this in 2012

After the fractured mandate it received in the Haryana Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in talks with the chief of Haryana Lokhit Party, Gopal Goyal Kanda, a tainted MLA and a controversial figure, for his support to form the new government. Kanda, one of the eight MLAs that the BJP is looking to for support in Haryana, has turned kingmaker with one seat.

Kanda was flown in on Thursday to New Delhi, with other MLAs, for a meeting with the BJP leadership over government formation in the state. Although the BJP is the single-largest party with 40 MLAs, the party is short of at least 6 MLAs to form the government. On Thursday, Kanda told reporters that he and all the Independent candidates have "decided" to extend unconditional support to the BJP.

BJP seeking Kanda's support was met with very strong opposition, not just from the Opposition parties, but also from within the BJP. Senior BJP leader and party's national vice-president Uma Bharti warned the party against depending on Kanda's support to form the government.

"We have a leader like Narendra Modi who, with this pure energy, has built the power of nationalism," tweeted Bharti, and added that winning the elections does not acquit Kanda of his alleged crimes. "I would like to request that we do not forget our moral establishment."

As per the affidavit submitted to the Election Commission ahead of the polls, Kanda faces 10 cases against him.

In 2012, Kanda was arrested after Geetika Sharma, one of his employees, left suicide notes accusing him of harassment and abuse. At the time, the BJP had held protests against him, demanding his resignation as minister and his arrest. Geetika's mother also committed suicide later. Kanda was with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in 2009 when he decided to contest the Haryana elections. INLD refused to field him but he contested as an Independent candidate and won. With the Hooda-led Congress falling short of a majority, he had enough leverage to become a minister. BJP had raised a huge opposition to Kanda's induction in the Hooda government.

"Look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time Gopal Kanda was a minister in the Hooda-led government. We forced him to resign and removed from ministership. What was the BJP's stand then? The double speak of BJP lies exposed completely and shows the level of hunger for power the party has," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press conference.

In 2012, BJP held several protests against Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana after details of Kanda's involvement in various deals and Sharma's murder surfaced in the media. Head of BJP's IT media cell Amit Malviya in 2012 tweeted:

 BJP enlisting Gopal Kandas support in Haryana is political turnabout at its worst: Party forgets 2012 protests as it turns to HLP chief to play saviour

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Double-speak in politics is not new, and loyalties are bartered without a second thought if it makes political sense. However, at a time when the central leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is boasting of a "clean image" at the Centre and states (with a BJP government), seeking the support of someone who stands accused of heinous crimes in order to ratchet up numbers in the Haryana Assembly will not be taken lightly by the Opposition.

It might hurt BJP's chances in the long run. All this, however, is speculation. What we know for sure is the Janata Jannayak Party chief Dushyant Chautala is still dilly-dallying with his decision to support either BJP and Congress, the ruling party (led by Manohar Lal Khattar in the state) is banking heavily on Kanda's support.

The BJP, with 40 Assembly seats, is six short of a majority in Haryana. With the support of Kanda and seven other Independents, it is expected to make up the shortfall easily.

The hypocrisy of the decision did not go unnoticed by Twitterati. Even before Kanda formally announced support for the saffron party, Twitterati pointed out the irony of Kanda emerging "kingmaker" for a party that started the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign.

Reports that the BJP deputed an MP to escort Kanda to Delhi for talks triggered a flurry of tweets, with Congress leaders accusing the party of "hypocrisy".

Congress and AAP leaders shared tweets with photos of Malviya protesting against Kanda.

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Owner of an airline (now defunct), two five-star hotels, two casinos, a mall, large tracts of land in Haryana and elsewhere and a sprawling castle loaded with latest gizmos and a helipad, Kanda was always willing to flaunt his wealth and was one of those "multi-millionaire" Independent candidates who supported the then Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government cobble up a majority when the party was falling short of the magic number.

Kanda along with his wife Saraswati Devi, have been accused of income tax evasion to the tune of Rs 40 crore in several cheating cases. In his affidavit for the 2019 election, Kanda declared his assets, both movable and immovable, worth Rs 65.5 crore. His wife assets, according to the affidavit, was a total of over Rs 30 crore.

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Kanda has not been acquitted by any court. He is free to contest elections, but winning elections does not exonerate him, noted Bharti in one of her eight tweets addressed to the BJP leadership. Five years after his bail, Kanda is not only in the thick of a hectic political activity in Haryana again, he is enjoying the tag of a "kingmaker" and if picked by BJP, Kanda will be one of the ministers in the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government.

However, reports have quoted BJP sources as saying that nothing is confirmed about Kanda. The BJP, however, will have to rely on Kanda's support, especially since the JJP is playing hardball.

Updated Date: Nov 07, 2019 02:45:13 IST