In 2009 assembly polls, when the Congress fell short of getting a simple majority, first-time Independent MLA from Sirsa, Gopal Kanda (49) was a much sought after man. Before he was forced to tender his resignation as minister of state for home after being named by his deceased former employee, Geetika Sharma in her suicide note, Kanda’s graph was on a surge.
Chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, otherwise also an accommodating politician, tried to mollify him when Kanda threw a tantrum in 2011 and gave up his official vehicle security after Hooda chided him for his differences with Sirsa MP, Ashok Tanwar.
A one-time shoe merchant turned owner of MDLR Airlines and realtor, Kanda along with six other Independents was critical to the fortunes of the Congress, which was taking a second consecutive shot at power in the state.
After negotiations, seven Independents, including Kanda, backed the Congress during the vote of confidence in the state assembly on October 28, 2009. He was rewarded by CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda with a minister of state rank and portfolio of home (attached with the chief minister).
The day he was sworn in as the MoS on November 7, 2009, Kanda was facing trial in three different cases before Gurgaon courts — for rioting armed with deadly weapon, obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty, under provisions of IPC and Arms Act.
The Sirsa MLA was also tried by Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Gurgaon in two cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act (cheque bounce cases). Kanda had also accepted in the poll affidavit that he was an authorised signatory/director of the companies involved in these cases.
Ascent and connections
An under matric by his own admissions, Kanda however had started gaining recognition — for right or wrong reasons — well before 2004. So much so that intelligence wing of Haryana police had prepared a dossier on his assets, activities and connections.
The ministry of home affairs also sought a report from the Haryana DGP in January 2007 on allegations levelled against Kanda by then Congress MLA, Karan Singh Dalal.
Dalal in fact wrote to the Prime Minister questioning Kanda’s sudden and dramatic rise, accusing him of managing the alleged ill-gotten money of a former chief minister.
The dossier communicated to MHA’s internal security division in 2007 said: “Gopal Kanda and his family did not own much property five years ago.
However, when his assets were looked into, it was found that in the last five years, Kanda and his family had amassed properties worth hundred of crores.
These facts clearly show that Gopal Kanda and his family have acquired money through illegal means. Hence, the matter should be investigated by Income Tax department and legal action should be initiated.”
The government’s report on Kanda listed out a large number of immoveable assets and properties being owned by Kanda and his family in Gurgaon and Sirsa.
In fact, Kanda’s brother, Gobind was one of the initial directors of M/s Onkareshwar Properties, the firm which sold 3.5 acre Gurgaon land to Robert Vadra, the businessman son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Gobind though was not a director when the deal took place.