Red flags against twenty-four jobs appointments in the Department of Sports; the awarding of a Rs 3.04 contract during the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to an event company without due diligence; the retaining of staff facing three charges of sexual harassment in the office of the sports minister; the appointment of the superintendent engineer; and the behaviour of the officer on special duty (OSD), are the main reasons attributed to the sudden order relieving Ajay Gaude of additional charge as the executive director of the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG).
Geeta Nagvenkar, who is the director of PWD (administration), has been given additional charge as the executive director of SAG.
The order could well be an indication that Sports Minister Govind Gaude is one of the few ministers in Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s cabinet who is unaware of the adage “Four fingers point at you when one is pointed at someone else”.
The removal of Ajay, according to sources at the secretariat, is seen as an attempt to marginalise Sports Minister Gaude who has been wrapped in controversies concerning the art department, the civil supplies department and now the sports department.
In the first two instances, Gaude has tried to redirect the blame onto others.
“My seniors are aware of my work, and they know I work diligently wherever I am posted. I have no complaints and no more comments to make,” Ajay Gaude told GT Digital.
“I was given the additional charge of executive director of SAG after being posted as director of sports and youth affairs (DSYA), and I will continue taking the vision of the government forward,” added Ajay.
Matters grew sour between the sports minister and his deputy, according to sources aware of matters in the secretariat, due to the cancellation of 24 jobs that were to be filled in the sports ministry by the chief minister; the payment of Rs 3.04 crores to an event management committee and the attitude of staff selected by the sports minister in his office.
“The sports minister wanted to give government jobs to 24 people from Priol without following the necessary staff selection procedure. The CM objected and cancelled the appointments, and the ire was deflected onto Ajay,” disclosed a source working in the secretariat on the condition of anonymity.
Sports Minister Gaude is said to have resented the questions that were asked over payments of Rs 3.04 crores to the event management committee of Paresh Naik, whose link to Gaude is known. The billing, according to sources, was to put up banners relating to the FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Goa.
“How can any officer justify a payment of Rs 3.04 crores for putting up hoardings during the recently held World Cup?” questioned the source who is in the know.
“Paresh was taken to the National Games in Gujarat as a state delegate by the sports minister. There are videos circulating in this regard, and some sort of protocol needs to be established,” opined the source at the secretariat.
The appointment of the OSD and his behaviour; the appointment of the superintendent engineer (SE); and the appointment of an officer were red-flagged as well.
“We (government servants) are appointed to help ministers follow certain financial and other procedures. We are accountable. A minister is bound to be upset if his instructions are not followed, but at the end of the day, it is the officer who is pulled up. A strong officer is one who knows when to say no,” admitted a senior member of the administration.
“When questions were being asked about the repairs going on at Kala Academy, Gaude tried to blame the cabinet by claiming it was a cabinet decision; in the civil supplies case, he is trying to blame the director. Why will a government servant risk his career to please a minister?” asks a senior member of the administration.
“Ajay Gaude is removed as executive director of SAG, but he is very much in charge of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) and that is the mother body of sports,” disclosed the member.
Sports Minister Govind Gaude did not respond to phone calls.