It is primarily a contest between two moneybags and an inheritor of a political legacy in Sirsa assembly constituency.
Sitting Independent MLA Gopal Goyal Kanda (49), whose rags to riches rise made him a household name, is crossing swords with liquor baron Makhan Lal Singla (64) of the Indian National Lok Dal and BJP’s Sunita Setia (55), the daughter of former Congressman Lachhman Das Arora. Both Kanda and Singla figure among the 10 richest candidates contesting this assembly election. While Kanda has declared assets to the tune of Rs 113 crore, first-timer Singla has assets amounting to Rs 72 crore.
Kanda, who is facing trial in the suicide case of former airhostess Geetika Sharma, is now the chief of the newly floated Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP).
Chequered vs clean
Both Kanda and Singla are seeking a vote for change, while Setia sees the contest as a fight between the noble and the ignoble.
Her husband, Rahul Setia, who handles her campaign does not forget to remind voters about backgrounds of Kanda and Singla. “One is accused of abetting the suicide of a Brahmin girl, while the other is a liquor trader. Both are not even matriculates. Jo log sharaab paroste hain woh kya apke leader banenge? On the other hand, when Lachhman Das Arora was an MLA and a minister, Sirsa saw unprecedented development. Take your pick,” he tells the crowds.
While campaigning at Neki Gujjar Wali Gali in Sirsa on Wednesday evening, Sunita Setia also played up the legacy card. “My father had a blemish-free track record. Do not repeat the mistake you made in 2009,” she says. Sunita also spoke extensively about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies and vision, trying to cash in on the Modi factor.
Kanda plays victim
Kanda, on the other hand, says that he has been a victim of political intrigue. “Both the Congress and the INLD leadership is after me. They could not digest my political rise. Without any inquiry, I was put behind bars in the abetment to suicide case. There is a political bigwig at the national level against whom several such cases are registered. But he has never been arrested. Mine was the first case where a minister was sent to jail without holding an inquiry,” he says.
“Later, serious charges were slapped against me that were later quashed by the court. The sole intention of my detractors was to keep me entangled in lawsuits. Even now both the INLD and the Congress are working overtime to harm me. They have deliberately fielded candidates from the Aggarwal community to hurt my prospects,” he says.
The HLP leader says that voters know the truth behind the cases against him and are sympathetic.
“After many years, the people of Haryana have got an alternative in the form of the HLP. A few political families of the state have plundered Haryana and people now want a change,” says Kanda as he gets ready to take off in a private chopper to address a meeting in Beri.
INLD’s Makhan Lal Singla, who was earlier associated with the late Congressman Lachhman Das Arora, says though the emphasis remains on highlighting the neglect of Sirsa in the last 10 years under the Congress regime, the criminal cases against his rival Kanda are also an important election issue. “People know very well what happened. I personally do not speak about Kanda’s acts but my supporters do,” he says.
Singla claims that the upsurge in INLD’s poll prospects are visible and voters cannot be misguided by hollow claims.
In the LS elections, INLD’s Charanjeet Rori led from Sirsa segment by 6,366 votes over HJC’s Sushil Indora. Congress candidate Ashok Tanwar finished third and was down by 12,000 votes as compared to Rori.