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Gopal Kanda supports BJP, triggers row over his past

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 25, 2019  | 17:11 IST

(Eds: Adds details) Chandigarh, Oct 25 (PTI) With six MLAs short of the number needed to form the next government, the BJP Friday was promised “unconditional support” by Haryana Lokhit Party leader Gopal Kanda, a controversial politician who faces a case of abetment to suicide. Kanda told reporters that he and all independent candidates have “decided” to extend unconditional support to the Bharatiya Janata Party. In Delhi a BJP leader said, five independent MLAs met the party’s working president J P Nadda. The apparent BJP move to accept Kanda’s support was slammed by the opposition Congress and BJP leader Uma Bharti, who recalled the row in which the politician was involved when he was a minister in Haryana’s Congress government in 2012. In a tweet, the former Union minister cautioned her party that this could hurt the clean image enjoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP of doublespeak. "I think you should look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time when Gopal Kanda was a minister in the government in Haryana, when we forced him to resign after registration of a case and also removed him from ministership,” he told reporters in Delhi. The BJP has emerged as the largest party with 40 seats in a hung assembly, beating the Congress which won 31 seats. Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party has 10 MLAs and Indian National Lok Dal one. The BJP is mainly counting on the support of Kanda, the lone MLA from his party, and seven independents to cross the majority mark in the 90-member House. “My family is connected with the RSS since 1926. My father was connected with the BJP," said the Sirsa MLA, who was arrested in 2012 for allegedly abetting the suicide of an air hostess who worked for his aviation company. He was initially also booked for rape, but this charge was dropped when Delhi High Court granted him bail in 2014 in the abetment to suicide case. 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. "There is only one false case of 306 (Indian Penal Code section related to abetment to suicide) against me,” he said. "It is easy to make accusations," he said, trashing reports that he faced other cases as well. But in his election affidavit, Kanda has listed nine pending cases, including cheating, evading tax and bounced cheques. Geetika Sharma, once employed with Kanda's then MDLR airlines, 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 denied the charge. He was booked by the Delhi police in the case, in which he is currently out on bail. Six months later, Geetika Sharma's mother also allegedly committed suicide and Kanda was again accused of abetment to suicide. Kanda tendered his resignation when the row erupted. Then in the opposition in Haryana, the BJP had held protests against Kanda, demanding his arrest. Kanda, who was earlier associated with the Indian National Lok Dal, fought as an independent and won the 2009 assembly polls after being denied a party ticket. Later, he extended support to the Congress when it fell short of majority that year and was made a minister. Kanda's rise is well known in his hometown Sirsa, where he began as a shoe shop owner. He later joined the realty business and then dabbled with the aviation sector. Asked what made him and independent candidates support the BJP, Kanda said, "We felt that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the country is progressing well and even the state government has delivered and provided a clean and transparent regime.” “So all independents talked yesterday and felt that the development work should continue, and therefore we decided to extend unconditional support to the BJP,” he said. Kanda said he and some independents have talked to senior BJP leaders. He claimed that some top Congress leaders also approached them, "but we decided to support the BJP". A senior Haryana BJP leader claimed four election winners -- Balraj Kundu from Meham, Nayan Pal Rawat from Prithla, Sombir Sangwan from Dadri and Randhir Gollen from Pundri -- fought as independents when they did not get the BJP ticket. Besides, two other independents Rakesh Daulatabad, Dharampal Gonder are said to have BJP leanings. Ranjit Singh Chautala, a Congress rebel, has already announced his support to the BJP. PTI SUN VSD JTR KR ASH ASH

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