Media baron Ashwini Kumar Chopra ‘Minna’ of the BJP registered an impressive victory from Karnal parliamentary segment by defeating the two-time MP Arvind Sharma of the Congress by 3.60 lakh votes.
Besides, director of The Hind Samachar Limited that publishes dailies in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu languages, Minna is also a director in a Delhi-based Goldrays Constructions Pvt Ltd and Hike Shoes of Jalandhar, Punjab. He is also a director of HandsOn Technology and Engineering (HT&E), Gurgaon.
After completing his BCom from DAV Colle ge, Jalandhar, in 1976, he did diploma in journalism from Panjab University in 1977. At 21, he did his masters degree in journalism from the Berkley University, California, US.
Interestingly, in his affidavit submitted at the time of filing nomination papers from Karnal Lok Sabha, Minna had not stated about his higher education from a foreign university. Excerpts of an interview:
You won with the highest ever margin from Karnal. To whom will you give the credit?
There is no doubt that Modi was the major factor. BJP leadership approached me to contest from Karnal seat at the nick of the time. But due to the support of my entire family and the BJP leadership of Haryana, I managed a thumping victory. There was also strong anti-incumbency mood against the Congress.
Congress was seen strong in Karnal, then how did you turn the tide in your favour?
I honestly admit that Arvind Sharma was a very strong candidate to face. But Sharma not only failed in keeping the development interests of his constituency intact but he never visited people and the voters rejected him. Also, people were angry the way north Haryana was neglected by the Hooda government.
What will be your priorities for Karnal?
Infrastructure development and generating employment in the villages is the need of the hour. Two of my industrialist friends have agreed to establish factories which would help in generating employment to the rural youths. I want an airstrip in Karnal, which would further provide employment opportunities to the local youth. I will make efforts to establish a railway junction and rail coach manufacturing unit in Karnal. Also, there is need to check haphazard development in Panipat.
Being a resident of New Delhi, where all your business interests are located, how will you effectively represent the people of Karnal?
I have already bought houses in Karnal and Panipat, thus has become a resident of the area. I will personally remain accessible to my voters at given times, who have shown faith in my representation.
Should the BJP retain alliance with the HJC in the state?
HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi had said several times that he would quit politics if he loses. The party contested two seats and both the candidates including its president were defeated badly. I strongly feel that HJC is completely finished now and there is no point in keeping such an ally. Indian National Lok Dal leadership (INLD) is convicted in JBT teachers scam and its political association should also be avoided. BJP has emerged as the strongest party in Haryana and it should contest independently by projecting a strong leader as the chief ministerial candidate for a certain victory.
What is your take on the Congress government in Haryana?
Barring nine assembly segments of Rohtak parliamentary seat being represented by CM’s MP son Deepender Singh Hooda, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has lost mandate in all 81 assembly segments. If Bihar CM Nitish Kumar quits due to dismal performance in the Lok Sabha, Hooda too holds no moral right to govern here.