Haryana CM saviours become embarrassments

Chandigarh:Just over three years ago, they were the political saviours of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda when their support helped him form a government in late 2009. But the same saviours are now repeatedly embarrassing the chief minister.

The latest one to leave Hooda embarrassed is Shiv Charan Lal Sharma, Haryana’s minister for labour, employment and information and public relations. Sharma was caught on tape (on Dec 29) foul-mouthing former MDLR airline flight attendant Geetika Sharma, who committed suicide last August.

At a time when the country is near-unanimous in its demand for action in crimes against women, the minister showed the alacrity of not only attending the birthday celebrations of disgraced former Haryana minister Gopal Kanda, who is now in Delhi’s Tihar jail following his arrest for abetment to suicide of Geetika, but also referring to her as a “mere servant” who had been “employed by Kanda by mistake”.

As the clamour and pressure on Hooda increased to sack Sharma, the minister went into overdrive to issue apologies to just about everyone. “If my statements have hurt anyone, I apologise for the same,” Sharma said.

An embarrassed Hooda, for whom such ministerial gaffes have now become routine, chose to keep mum on the issue. Asked by the media if he would drop Sharma from the cabinet, an irritated Hooda walked away.

Sharma was among the independent legislators who had extended support to Hooda after the October 2009 assembly elections to come to power for a second consecutive term.

The Congress party had failed to get a majority on its own in the assembly and took support from seven independents to form the government. All, except one, ended up as ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries in the Hooda government.

Sharma and Kanda were among them.

Kanda was forced to resign last August after he was booked by Delhi Police for abetting Geetika’s suicide.

Kanda, who allegedly had relations with Geetika, was accused by her in her suicide note, along with another senior woman official of his now-defunct MDLR airline, of ruining her life.

Another independent legislator, O.P. Jain, was forced to resign as transport and tourism minister in June 2011 after his name figured in the murder conspiracy of a village headman in Karnal district.

Chief Parilamentary Secretary Zile Ram Sharma’s name also figured in the same murder conspiracy and he was also forced to quit from the Hooda government.

Jain was present at Gopal Kanda’s birthday celebrations in Sirsa town where Sharma made derogatory remarks about Geetika.

Also present in Kanda’s birthday party was Chief Parilamentary Secretary Prahlad Singh Gillankhera, who is also an independent legislator. After the latest controversy, he tried to wash his hands off saying the statement (on Geetika) was made by Sharma.

By Jaideep Sarin (IANS)

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