Putting all speculations to rest, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday (October 26) made it clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not rely on the support of controversial Sirsa MLA Gopal Kanda to form government in Haryana.
Reports of Kanda, a former minister who faces two abetment-to-suicide cases, extending support to the saffron camp had on Friday triggered a row as the opposition pointed out that the BJP itself campaigned against him when he was accused in the abetment-to-suicide cases in 2012.
“I want to clarify one thing that the BJP is not going to take the support of Kanda,” Prasad told reporters here.
Kanda on Friday said he had decided to extend his unconditional support to the BJP after the party failed to secure majority in the Haryana Assembly. The BJP has emerged as the single-largest party with 40 seats in a hung Haryana Assembly, beating the Congress, which won 31 seats. Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) has 10 MLAs and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) one.
The BJP came under attack from the Congress after Kanda extended his support to the saffron party. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP of doublespeak.
“I think you should look at the statements made by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (Union Home Minister and BJP chief) Amit Shah when Gopal Kanda was a minister in Haryana, when we forced him to resign after registration of a case (against him) and also removed him from ministership,” he said in Delhi.
In a tweet, former Union minister and senior BJP leader Uma Bharti also cautioned her party, saying taking Kanda’s support to form the government in Haryana could hurt the clean image of Modi and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
Kanda, the Sirsa MLA, was arrested in 2012 for allegedly abetting the suicide of an air-hostess, who worked for his now-defunct aviation company MDLR Airlines. He was also initially booked for rape, but the charge was dropped when the Delhi High Court granted him bail in the abetment-to-suicide case in 2014.
In 2012, Kanda was Haryana’s home minister in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government. He also held the urban bodies, industry and commerce portfolios.
The air-hostess, Geetika Sharma, was found dead at her Ashok Vihar home in northwest Delhi on August 5, 2012. In her suicide note, she said she was ending her life due to “harassment” by Kanda and one of his employees. Kanda had denied the charge.
Kanda was then booked by the Delhi Police in the case, in which he is currently out on bail. Six months later, Sharma’s mother also allegedly committed suicide and Kanda was again accused of abetting it.
Kanda tendered his resignation when the row erupted. Then in the opposition in Haryana, the BJP had held protests against the controversial politician, demanding his arrest.
Kanda, who was earlier associated with the INLD, fought the 2009 Haryana Assembly polls as an Independent and won, after being denied a party ticket. Later, he extended his support to the Congress when it fell short of majority and was made a minister.
Kanda’s rise is well known in his hometown Sirsa, where he was the owner of a shoe shop once. He later joined the real estate business and then dabbled with the aviation sector.
(With inputs from agencies)