Goa: Verbal fireworks as assembly Speaker accuses BJP Minister of graft

The explosive accusations unfolded outside the assembly, overshadowing the proceedings within

File photo of the Goa Legislative Assembly (photo: National Herald Archives)
File photo of the Goa Legislative Assembly (photo: National Herald Archives)
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Aditya Anand

On the inaugural day of the Budget session of the Goa Legislative Assembly on Friday, Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar accused Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude of corruption, sparking a dramatic confrontation. As the explosive accusations unfurled outside the assembly, the proceedings inside were overshadowed.

In his statement, Speaker Tawadkar, speaking on behalf of his electorate from Canacona, unequivocally accused Minister Gaude of complicity in misappropriating funds associated with the distribution of grants from the Department of Art and Culture. In his address to the media, Tawadkar called for an exhaustive investigation into the purported financial irregularities.

The dispute intensified following allegations put forth the day before by village panchayat members from Canacona, who Tawadkar represented. The aforementioned individuals contended that a number of organisations had deceitfully obtained Rs 26.85 lakh in funds from the Art and Culture department to finance non-existent cultural programmes.

Minister Gaude had promised to conduct an investigation into the allegations in response to them. On the contrary, Speaker Tawadkar responded by asserting that Gaude was cognizant of the fraudulent activities and demanded that the entire department be subjected to an investigation, in addition to the minister.

Amid the discourse, Gaude indicated his willingness to respond to any inquiries regarding the utilisation of departmental funds for art and culture. He emphasised that it was improper to incorporate politics into issues of art and culture. Gaude emphasised the preexisting system in which grant-receiving organisations were obligated to provide "utilisation certificates" for each expenditure, thus eliminating the potential for fraudulent activities.

The unanticipated altercation between Minister Gaude and Speaker Tawadkar is of particular importance given that they are both tribal delegates of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The confrontation exposes the Pramod Sawant administration and the BJP to unwelcome disgrace, prompting inquiries into internal workings and possible consequences within the governing party. With the persistent allegations surrounding the incident, it is probable that the ongoing Budget session will be overshadowed, as demands for a thorough investigation gain traction.

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