20 September, 2020

Shoestring Potentate

The rags-to-riches story of a man who built an empire from modest beginnings

Shoestring Potentate

Gopal Kanda, Haryana’s sacked minister of state for home and a political pariah at the moment, scripted and executed a rags-to-riches story for himself. Its most corporeal symbol is a 5.5-acre fortress on the outskirts of Sirsa in Haryana, about which he is famously said to have remarked that it would be a house people would visit for centuries to marvel at. The ‘mahal’, as the people of Sirsa call it, is the nerve centre of the real estate empire that Kanda built and used as a stepping stone to political power. The son of a criminal lawyer in Sirsa, Gopal began with a television repair shop in the ’80s, followed by a small footwear business that folded up when he defaulted on a loan repayment of Rs 11 lakh. He then plunged into the Gurgaon real estate business at about the time Om Prakash Chautala came to power. Gopal’s business flourished as Chautala facilitated a change in land use from agricultural to industrial and residential. And he never looked back, moving on to acquire shopping malls, five-star hotels, interests in education, the media and...



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