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Gopal Kanda: footwear merchant to a controversial politician

india Updated: Aug 05, 2012 20:38 IST
Hitender Rao/Sat Singh
Hitender Rao/Sat Singh
Hindustan Times
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A small time footwear merchant of 90’s from Sirsa Gopal Goyal alias Gopal Kanda’s meteoric rise in public life is a dream story. After suffering financial reverses in enterprise, Kanda started dabbling in real estate. Gradually, he gained proximity to the then chief minister, Om Prakash Chautala.

Flight of the Phoenix
Those who saw him say he flourished during the INLD rule and emerged as a business tycoon. His MDLR (Murali Dhar Lakhpat Rai) airline company was also floated during this period.

In fact, a dossier prepared by the Intelligence Wing of Haryana police during the Congress rule in 2005 on his assets, activities and links gives quite a bit of an insight on Kanda.

The dossier which was communicated to the Internal Security division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) 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 which included acquisition of an aircraft for MDLR Airlines. These facts clearly show that Gopal Kanda and his family has acquired money through illegal means. Hence, the matter should be investigated by Income Tax department and legal action should be initiated.”

It also listed out a large number of immoveable assets and properties being owned by Kanda and his family in Gurgaon and Sirsa. The dossier also said that Gopal Kanda, Govind Kanda and their family were associated with a number of companies – MDLR Aviation Pvt Ltd (Gopal and his wife are Directors), MDLR Hotels Pvt Ltd and LKG Builders (Gopal and Govind are Directors), Nageshwar Realtors Pvt Ltd ( Gopal Kanda and his associate Gopal Gaba are Directors), Alankar Saphire Developer Pvt Ltd (Both Gopal and Govind are Directors). In fact, the income tax authorities in 2008 raided Kanda’s establishments at Gurgaon and Sirsa on the basis of this report.

The report also brought out the name of one Gopal Gaba of Gurgaon who is Kanda’s partner in Nageswar Realtors Pvt Ltd and a key person involved in the sale-purchase of properties in Sohna tehsil and Gurgaon. The report also made a mention of his alleged proximity with a notorious criminal, Pawan Beniwal.

Kanda, the politician

Like a true entrepreneur, Kanda had started hobnobbing with Congressmen when INLD was routed in 2005 assembly polls. In 2009, he challenged Chautalas in their own pocket borough by contesting and winning from Sirsa assembly seat as an independent.

When the Congress fell short of a simple majority in 2009, Kanda was among the seven Independents to offer support to Bhupinder Singh Hooda. In a rather dramatic turn of events after the assembly result was announced, Kanda was evacuated from Sirsa by the local police after he expressed threat to his life and liberty.

Hooda rewarded him and six other Independents with cabinet berths. In fact, after being sworn in as a Minister of state in 2009, Kanda was given the Home portfolio despite the fact that on that day he was facing trial in three different cases before Gurgaon courts including a case of 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 his duty.

Brush with controversies
Controversies, however seem to follow his political career. In April 2010, Kanda hit the headlines when he was caught abusing and threatening INLD workers live on camera during a Congress event in Sirsa.

Once his security guards thrashed former cricketer Atul Wassan after he tried to overtake Kanda’s vehicle near Gurgaon toll plaza in 2011. In fact, he tried throwing his weight around when in June 2011 he suddenly disappeared from Hisar, leaving his official car and security men at a local rest house, after he was publicly admonished by the chief minister at a function in Sirsa a day before. During Ratia by election last year, Kanda entered into a an ugly spat with Sirsa MP Ashok Tanwar publicly. Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda had to personally intervene to order a cease fire.

How Gopal Goyal became Gopal Kanda?

The intelligence wing dossier while tracing his antecedents speaks about how he acquired Kanda as surname. “ He writes Kanda as his ancestors were in the business of weighing at the Anaj Mandi. “ That’s how they came to be known as Kande wale,” it said.