Gopal Goyal Kanda, the lone MLA of the Haryana Lokhit Party which he founded with his brother Govind Kanda in May 2014, initially emerged as a key player who could help the BJP cobble up a new government in Haryana. He won from the Sirsa Assembly constituency defeating independent candidate Gokul Setia, while his brother Govind was defeated by INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala’s estranged brother Ranjit Singh.
On Thursday evening, as the results were declared, Gopal and Ranjit were picked up from Sirsa by BJP’s local MP Sunita Duggal and taken to New Delhi. Both agreed to back the BJP.
Thursday evening was nothing new for Gopal, who uses the surname “Kanda” that depicts the iron weights his ancestors, who were market traders, used. He had done the same in 2009, but for the Indian National Congress. At that time, the Congress had faced a similar majority crisis with 40 seats and required six more MLAs. Kanda helped Hooda form the Congress government and in return bagged the coveted Home portfolio.
Gopal Kanda’s background
In the 90s, Gopal Kanda used to repair radio handsets in his shop – Jupiter Music Home – with a few hundred rupees of monthly earnings. From there he and his brother got into the shoe business and opened a shoe store in Sirsa. The young Kanda used his friend circle to reach traders, businessmen and politicians and gained their trust. He and his brother soon opened a shoe factory.
He had political ambitions for which he first got close to Haryana’s former Chief Minister Bansi Lal’s family. But as Bansi Lal’s government fell, Kanda switched sides to the Chautalas. His friendship with a senior Haryana cadre IAS officer helped Kanda expand his business. From Sirsa, Kanda shifted his base to Gurgaon and started dealing in real-estate. He has never looked back from there.
Gopal Kanda’s rise
In 2007, Kanda stunned Sirsa with the news that he’s launched MDLR airlines, named after father Murli Dhar Lakh Ram. But MDLR has a short flight and was grounded within two years. He first attempted to contest on INLD’s ticket, but was not considered. An infuriated Kanda fought as an independent candidate from Sirsa and won. This was when Bhupinder Hooda was looking for a second term as Chief Minister. Congress fell short of majority and Hooda got Kanda airlifted from Sirsa. A hard-bargainer, Kanda did not rest for anything less than a ministerial berth and got the Home portfolio. Currently, Kanda’s Golden Globe Hotels Private Limited is into Casino business in Goa.
Gopal Kanda’s political connections
Gopal and Govind Kanda’s father Late Murli Dhar was a renowned advocate in Sirsa. He had joined RSS in 1926 and had even contested on RSS’ poll symbol – Deepak – in 1952 from Sirsa constituency. He, however, could not succeed. Gopal Kanda and his brother Govind Kanda used to be close aides of the Chautala brothers. Gopal Kanda was considered a key man of Abhay Chautala till 2005. But they relationship strained when Chautalas did not allow him to contest in their citadel of Sirsa.
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Gopal Kanda’s controversial past
While serving as a minister for home in the Haryana government, Kanda was arrested in August 2012 after a former air-hostess with his MDLR airlines committed suicide accusing him of harassment. In February, 2013, the air hostess’ mother too committed suicide and left a suicide note.
In March, 2014 Delhi High Court dropped the sexual exploitation charges against Kanda and he was released on bail. He is still facing trial in the case besides a number of cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act. In October 2016, the Kanda brothers faced charge for illegally developing a property in Sirsa, a case that had been under investigation since 2009.
Gopal Kandas’ spiritual path
Kandas have been followers of Tara Baba, a reclusive spiritual guru in Sirsa, whom Kanda had subsequently done much to promote. Various other politicians also used to visit Tara Baba, who died in 2002. Kanda had got a huge temple built in the Baba’s memory in Sirsa where the family feeds thousands of poor and holds weekly discourses.