Kanda leaves Hooda government embarrassed (Haryana Newsletter)
Chandigarh, Aug 10 (IANS) Till earlier this week, he was Haryana's powerful minister in-charge of home affairs with the entire police force at his beck and call. In a matter of just three days, Gopal Kanda became a fugitive himself, running away from the law.
Kanda, now a former minister but still a legislator in Haryana, could not have imagined that things would change so fast for him. But the suicide by 23-year-old Geetika Sharma, a former flight attendant of his now-defunct MDLR airlines, in Delhi last week was the game-changer. She named Kanda in her suicide note and the Sirsa legislator was stripped of his portfolio.
This was not the first time that Kanda had left the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government in Haryana embarrassed.
Always a controversial figure, his ascent from a school drop-out and petty businessman to one of the richest and most influential people in Haryana's politics - all within a span of just two decades - shows how Kanda used the system for his own gains.
A billionaire politician now, Kanda's penchant for high life could be seen from his sprawling fort-like farmhouse on the outskirts of Sirsa town spread over several acres and touted to be worth Rs.100 crore, as well as other properties in Gurgaon and nearby places. There were also the expensive luxury SUVs, gun-toting police commandos and even bouncers around him.
Added to that were his flashy businesses - an airline, casino and hotels.
On the run from Delhi Police after Geetika Sharma committed suicide last week in her Delhi apartment and named him and another executive, Aruna Chadha, as her tormentors who drove her to commit suicide, Kanda has always managed to be a newsmaker for all the wrong reasons.
When Hooda, compelled to take the support of independent legislators to come back to power in Haryana in October 2009, decided to induct Kanda as a minister in his government, it was a known fact that Kanda had criminal cases pending against him. He was given the home portfolio with the Haryana Police directly under him.
Kanda joining Hooda's bandwagon was equally controversial. He had to be given protection by paramilitary forces and escorted out of Sirsa town in his aircraft to enable him to join Hooda. Kanda had expressed fears of a threat to his life from opposition leaders.
In 2010, Kanda was caught on video asking his police commandos to beat up and fire at shopkeepers who were observing a strike in Sirsa town. He was shown repeatedly using abusive language standing on the door of his official car with the tricolour flag on it.
In July last year, his security men beat up former cricketer Atul Wassan on the Delhi-Gurgaon highway. Wassan had reportedly overtaken his motorcade and Kanda did not like it.
Kanda's staff had beaten up some income tax officials who had raided his premises in Haryana two years ago.
Last year, he had a public spat with the Congress MP from Sirsa, Ashok Tanwar, at a political function in Hooda's presence.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)
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