Did resistance to lockdown being pushed by other IAS officials and politicians cost Gaikwad his job as civic chief?
Shekhar Gaikwad, a 2003 batch IAS officer, had a short yet most eventful stint as Pune municipal commissioner chief. The order about Gaikwad’s sudden transfer on Saturday raised many eyebrows as it came just at a crucial juncture when Pune will be undergoing a ten-day stricter lockdown, starting Tuesday, after a spike in Covid-19 cases.
During the meeting called by Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister and guardian minister, in the city, on Friday, Gaikwad was among the very few officials who resisted the lockdown. This, according to sources close to him, was an immediate trigger used by other IAS officials for pushing the case of his transfer.
“I have just got to know about the news. Even I am trying to figure out about the transfer. As a civic chief, I tried to give my best despite limited days,” said Gaikwad, immediately after the order was issued by the state government.
“Decision to transfer Gaikwad is wrong. He has been made scapegoat. I feel the transfer was for political reasons,” said Pune MP Girish Bapat.
Gaikwad, who shared proximity to Pawar was brought as civic chief from sugar commissioner in January this year had barely any breathing space to get a grip on civic issues as Covid pandemic changed the focus of PMC after the first week of May.
Before taking charge as the sugar commissioner, Gaikwad had served as commissioner of the groundwater survey and development authority, district collector of Sangli and chief executive officer of Thane zilla parishad.
During the last leg of lockdown in May, Gaikwad had taken a consistent stand about opening up while offering more relaxations in Pune as compared to other cities. However, as the city’s Covid tally began witnessing spike, his stand over more relaxations came under scrutiny especially when the government has brought ten IAS officials to coordinate with him while dealing with the crisis.
Some of the officials who are more experienced were working under Gaikwad.
Interestingly, Gaikwad had shifted in the official Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) bungalow just a week ago. However, within seven days, he will have to vacate it after transfer orders.