New Delhi: Desperate to form a government in Haryana after failing to get a majority, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) move to take support from controversial Sirsa MLA, Gopal Kanda, an Indepdndent, has stirred a row within the ruling party as well as public outrage.
Recall that BJP was among the parties that led state-wide protests against Kanda in 2012, when Geetika Sharma, an airhostess his then MDLR airlines was found dead in her Ashok Vihar residence in Delhi. She had left a suicide note, saying said she was ending her life due to "harassment" by Kanda, after which he was booked for abetment to suicide and is currently out on bail. Kanda was at that time part of the Bhupinder Hooda government in Haryana.
Police, during its investigation, also accused him of raping Geetika Sharma. Her mother too later ended her life.
Cautioning the BJP against taking support from a ‘tainted’ MLA, party vice-president Uma Bharti reminded the party of its "moral mission" and ensure that it takes support from people who are as "clean" as its own workers are.
In a tweet, Bharti said whether Kanda is a criminal or innocent will be decided by court but he cannot be absolved of his crime because he has won an election.
The BJP, which is short of six MLAs, is banking on Independents to form a government in Haryana and has been promised ‘unconditional’ support from Kanda, who has floated his own Haryana Lokhit Party. A cash-rich legislator who own mansions in Sirsa, Kanda is said to be helping BJP get support from other independent MLAs and was flown in to meet party president JP Nadda on a chartered flight, allegedly arranged by a BJP leader.
According to PTI, Kanda told reporters that he and all independent candidates had “decided” to extend unconditional support BJP. In Delhi, six MLAs met the party's working president J P Nadda.
The Opposition Congress, which has fared well in the Haryna elections but not enough to stake claim, also slammed the BJP for taking Kanda’s support.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, accusing BJP of doublespeak, said: "I think you should look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time when Gopal Kanda was a minister in the government in Haryana, when we forced him to resign after registration of a case and also removed him from ministership,” he told reporters in Delhi.
Kanda, meanwhile, openly declared his affinity to BJP’s ideology. “My family is connected with the RSS since 1926. My father was connected with the BJP," said the Sirsa MLA.
After the Geetika case, Kanda was asked to resign from the Hooda government. He was earlier associated with the Indian National Lok Dal, fought as an independent and won the 2009 Assembly polls after being denied a party ticket.
Later, he extended support to the Congress when it fell short of majority that year and was made a minister in the Hood government.
The social media, too, hit out at BJP’s doublespeak reminding it of its slogan ‘ Beti Bachao, Beto Padhao’ which was flagged off from Haryana, which has a poor record on gender parity and skewed sex ratio, and now taking support from Kanda.
Aam Aadmi Party leader, Manish Sisodia, tweeted a picture of BJP protesting against Kanda, reminding it of its earlier stance, while C ongress leader Abhishek Mani Singhvi sarcastically tweeted, that “after playing kingmaker for BJP in Haryana, BJP will now ask him to be the brand ambassador for Beti Bachao.”
The Karnataka Congress commented: “Is he (Kanda) purified by supporting BJP?”
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader, Hemant Soren, tweeted asking BJP to change ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ to ‘Beti Rulao Beti Maro’ “with the support @narendramodiji is seeking from #GopalKanda.”
The storm over Kanda intensified on Twitter through the day, with one “brandedbihari putting everything in a nutshell about BJP’s real face with regard to violence against women. “After Kuldeep Singh Senger Swami Chinmayanand #GopalKanda is the new brand ambassador of #BetiBachaoBetiPadhao’ thank you @narendramodiji for appointing these jewels for this revolutionary work.”
(with inputs from PTI)