All is well, that ends well? Perhaps not in this case. Barely has the dreadful Ramesh Tawadkar-Govind Gaude saga of fund embezzlement died down, another controversy erupted after a 4-minute audio clip surfaced with the Art and Culture Minister using abusive and threatening language against the Director of the Tribal Welfare Department, Chairperson of the SC and ST Commission while also making a brief mention of the CM.
The minister is heard using filthy language against the Director and the Chairperson of the SC and ST Commission, repeatedly intimidating them and threatening to kill them if they went ahead with an event in his Priol constituency. He is also heard telling the Director to pass on the message to the CM, in the very tone he has spoken.
For the record, the Director of Tribal Welfare has acknowledged his voice in the clip but offered no other comment fearing retribution. Gaude has not denied his part of the conversation either but maintained that “all allegations are false”, although there are no allegations here. The unfolding of the two incidents which are not connected points to a murky political plot.
On Wednesday, Gaude managed to push the audio clip issue on the back burner in the Legislative Assembly as he had to wade through a tsunami of charges on the department’s spending on national games. Nonetheless, the audio clip has thrown open pointed questions, questions that will still need answers.
The audio clip was recorded on the phone of the Director of Tribal Welfare somewhere on December 20 last year. Firstly, why did the Director remain mum for 45 days and decide to share the clip now, ahead of an important assembly session, and at a time when the Gaude-Tawadkar rift was escalating? It is reported that the audio clip was discussed in a recent meeting with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Party President Sadanand Tanavade. Why was no action initiated? From where does the thought originate of isolating Gaude in his constituency, and what was the motive?
On the flip side, the audio clip shows the savage and intolerant side of the minister. The language used against the Director, Tawadkar and Sawant had to be condemned in no uncertain terms because it makes a mockery of the BJP and the party discipline that it so flagrantly boasts of otherwise. Tanavade’s ’shut up’ directive is not good enough here. More importantly, there is a threat to kill the Director and Chairperson of the SC/ST Commission if they go ahead with the event. How does the BJP decipher this?
From the outside the BJP projects itself to be a well-knit team riding high on power, but inwardly the coteries and their varied interests tell a completely different tale. The incident not only exposes the culture within the ranks but also shows the arrogance of ministers, the utter disregard for officers and how ministers get away with murder.
The issue cannot be pushed under the carpet and forgotten because it sets a horrible precedent. It's time Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is also the Tribal Welfare Minister instils discipline and crack the whip on those showing a high-handed attitude and have very scant respect for the leadership.