The two have made headlines in the past for their connections with high-profile criminal cases that affected their political careers

Former Ministers in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, Venod Sharma and Gopal Kanda, are among the busiest politicians these days.

After falling out with Mr. Hooda, the two floated their own parties that are contesting the Haryana Assembly elections for the first time: Mr. Sharma’s Haryana Jan Chetna Party is in alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress while Mr. Kanda’s Haryana Lokhit Party is contesting all 90 seats on its own. Mr. Kanda floated his party on May 2 this year, the day Mr. Sharma quit as Congress MLA. But that is where the similarities just begin.

The two business tycoons are among the five richest candidates in this election, with Mr. Sharma’s net worth pegged at Rs. 153 crore and Mr. Kanda’s at Rs. 114 crore, according to an analysis of poll affidavits released by the Association for Democratic Reforms. Both used their businesses to enter politics and later their political clout to further other interests. In 2004, Mr. Sharma’s declared assets were Rs. 9.3 crore. Mr. Kanda’s assets were pegged at Rs. 63 crore in 2009 when he first contested as an independent candidate from Sirsa. He won and joined Mr. Hooda’s government as the Congress fell short of the half-way mark.

In Delhi, the two have made headlines in the past for their connections with high-profile criminal cases that affected their political careers (Mr. Sharma’s son Manu Sharma is convicted in the infamous Jessica Lal murder case while Mr. Kanda is facing trial as prime accused for abetting the suicide of Geetika Sharma, a former employee of his now defunct all-vegetarian carrier MDLR airlines in August 2012). The Congress-led Delhi government was accused of allegedly clearing Mr. Sharma’s parole despite police objections in 2009. Mr. Venod Sharma was a Minister in the Haryana government then.

“I was a minister at the Centre in the early 1990s,” he told The Hindu while campaigning in Ambala city, his constituency. But after his son’s arrest in the 1999 murder, his political career took a beating. Mr. Sharma shifted his political base from Chandigarh and contested the Haryana Assembly election when his childhood friend Hooda was leading the Congress’ bid to power. Mr. Hooda became Chief Minister and Mr. Sharma his most trusted Minister and adviser holding the important excise and taxation portfolio. With anti-incumbency peaking against Mr. Hooda in 2014, Mr. Sharma rebelled against his old friend and the Congress in March, looking for greener pastures.

“There was no inner party democracy. I raised it with the CM and the high command but was not heard,” he said. Mr. Sharma insists that he is a career politician by choice and his business is all inherited. His other son Kartikeya Sharma heads ITV media that bought news channels NewsX and India News in 2012. “That is my son’s company, I have no investment in it,” Mr. Sharma quipped on being asked about his association with the media company.

Before floating the HJCP, Mr. Sharma had tried to join the BJP but the move was stalled by senior leader Sushma Swaraj. Mr. Kanda was close to the Chautalas in Sirsa and decided to contest independently after having been denied an INLD ticket.