Gopal Kanda sends feelers for riding the Modi Wave

BJP in Haryana is relying heavily on the defectors from Congress

deevakar

Deevakar Anand | May 3, 2014



Congress's prospects in Haryana are riddled with a slew of controversial land deals and strong anti-incumbency of the party’s 10-year rule under chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The Indian National Lok Dal opposition, on the other hand, is in dire straits with party chief and former CM Om Prakash Chautala cooling his heels in jail on corruption charges.

Amidst this confusion, disgruntled and politically ambitious leaders, who were once either prominent Congress lieutenants or close ally of the party in Haryana, are now trying to find new political grounds for themselves in the "Modi Wave.”

On Friday, Gopal Kanda, former Haryana minister of state for home and a cynosure of CM Hooda not so long ago, launched his own political outfit Haryana Lokhit Party in Gurgaon. Kanda was allegedly involved in the suicide of the 23-year-old Geetika Sharma, an airhostess of the now defunct MDLR Airlines, which he promoted. Kanda, who once enjoyed patronage of both Chautala and Hooda and was considered to act as the single-window counter for controversial Change of Land Use permissions on behalf of both, is currently a political untouchable in Haryana due to Geetika’s case. He has lost the backing of CM Hooda who he accuses of “ditching him in his bad times”.

On the occasion of the launch of his party, it was hard to miss the feelers that Kanda tried to give to Modi and camp.

Not only was the overall theme of the venue splashed in saffron-colored tents and posters, but even as Kanda promised a clean alternative in Haryana, at least twice from the stage, his aides said, “Achche din aaney wale hain”, a slogan made popular by Modi in the run up to the 2014 elections. Kanda’s intent to take the Modi route became more apparent when an aide recited couplets from one of the poems by the former prime minister and BJP leader Atal Vihari Vajpaye’s “kadam milakar chalna hoga.” Kanda himself wore a saffron tinged turban and a Modi-style jacket.

Kanda is following the foot print of former Congress leader and Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, who in March 2013, floated Insaaf Manch to counter the Hooda government. Last February, the disgruntled leader joined BJP and was given an MP ticket from Haryana. Soon after Singh deserted Congress, party’s then state chief parliamentary secretary, Dharamvir Singh, rebelled and launched an outfit called Dharam Sena which later merged with the BJP. Singh is now BJP’s MP candidate from Haryana’s Bhiwani-Mahendergarh constituency.

With the Haryana state assembly election slated later this year, Kanda’s attempt to find a place in BJP’s lap is quite apparent.

BJP’s response to Kanda’s feelers to join the Modi wave will be watched keenly in Haryana politics.

It’s different matter that BJP itself is a struggling party in Haryana with no real ground: it doesn’t have a single MP from Haryana, which has 10 lok sabha seats. This time, the party is heavily banking on turncoats in Haryana for it knows that despite Modi's popularity, it is not easy to win with any of the candidates picked from the party’s own ranks. In Gurgaon, the party is banking on its MP candidate Rao Inderjit Singh, who recently left Congress after being in that for 36 years.

From Kurukshetra, another turncoat has been fielded by the BJP. Its candidate Raj Kumar Saini was a minister in the cabinet of former chief minister Bansi Lal who then headed Haryana Vikas Party. In Sonepat BJP has fielded Ramesh Kaushik, a former minister in the state and confidante of Bansi Lal.

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