Controversial businessman and promoter of the Big Daddy casino in Goa, Gopal Kanda has won the recently held Haryana legislative assembly elections from his home town of Sirsa and has the unique distinction of being the first casino owner to have won an election in India.
As per the results declared by the Election Commission today, Kanda, who contested as a candidate of his own party, the Haryana Lokhit Party, won the election from Sirsa defeating his nearest rival and independent candidate Gokul Setia by a slender margin of 602 votes.
Kanda, an associate of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Ajay Chautala, first won from the Sirsa seat as an independent in 2009 and was a cabinet minister in the Congress-led Bhupinder Singh Hooda government. He lost the elections in 2014, but emerged victorious this time around.
The Haryana Lokhit Party supremo has business interests in real estate and owns a company called Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd, which operates several hotels and malls as well as the recently restarted Big Daddy casino in Goa.
In 2005, he had started an airline company called MDLR, which later went bankrupt. Kanda has several criminal cases registered against him, including cases for abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy, income tax evasion and cheque bouncing.
According to his election affidavit, Kanda, along with his wife Saraswati Devi own assets worth around Rs. 95.5 crores.
Since the election results have delivered a hung verdict, Kanda’s support will be crucial in deciding who forms the state government in Haryana.