Son of a humble carpenter in Sonepat, Haryana, Deepak Bhardwaj had a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of success and an equally dramatic violent end.
The man who declared a fortune of Rs 600 crore while contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, was known as Devi Singh in his native village Chatia Awalia, 12 km from Sonepat. His uncle Jai Singh recalled how Bhardwaj's another uncle, an Air Force official, pitched in to provide financial help to his family so that the slain real estate tycoon and his siblings could study.
Bhardwaj had a B.Com degree and worked as a registry clerk at Delhi's Tis Hazari courts after leaving his native village in 1972. "It was during his job as a registry clerk that Bhardwaj got into the real estate business. He started selling and purchasing plots on a part-time basis, which later paid him rich dividends," said Jai Singh.
He shot to fame in 2009 when he decided to contest the parliamentary elections against Congress' Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi constituency. He declared assets worth Rs 603 crore and soon hit the headlines as the richest candidate in the fray.
Bhardwaj had been engaged in construction business for the past 30 years. He has a township project in Haridwar in Uttarakhand and a construction company called Delhi Apartments Private Limited which has offices in Mahipalpur in Delhi. Apart from the construction firm, he owned hotels and schools in Delhi.
"I have known him for the past 30 years and he was a renowned businessman who owned schools and hotels. In 2009, he decided to enter politics and was able to get 36,000 votes. I used to meet him at social functions and it seems that a property dispute led to his death," said Mahabal Mishra.
According to his relatives, even though he lost the election, Bhardwaj continued to help people in the constituency. "He was always available to help people and that's why he enjoyed the respect and love of the people," said Harmeet Singh, one of the slain BSP leader's relatives.
Though his son refused to talk, the spiritual guru of Bhardwaj, Swami Anandji Maharaj, visited AIIMS and hinted that his murder could be the result of a business rivalry.
"He usually had his bodyguards with him but on Tuesday he was alone in the farmhouse. I saw the incident spot and he was shot point-blank," he said.
"I have known him since long; he was a very nice man. I don't think he had any personal animosity, it has to be professional," said a man from his village, who was present at AIIMS.
Sources said that Bhardwaj had a dispute with the locals over booking of his farmhouse for wedding and other social functions as it used to cause a lot of disturbance to the residents. There were two criminal cases related to property disputes pending against Bhardwaj in the Delhi courts.