CS retires ‘hurt’, will be Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s chief adviser for 3 yrs | Kolkata News


KOLKATA: Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Monday opted for superannuation instead of reporting to Delhi’s North Block as directed by last Friday’s central government order. His decision was followed by an announcement from Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee appointing him as the “chief adviser to the CM” for a period of three years.
Bandyopadhyay’s superannuation and appointment to the new post capped a day of dramatic developments that saw CM Banerjee write a letter to PM Narendra Modi, asking him to withdraw the “unilateral, unconstitutional and unprecedented” order, and a second letter from the Centre asking Bandyopadhyay to report to Delhi on Tuesday.
Banerjee’s five-page letter to Modi urged him to “rescind” the order served on Bandyopadhyay and said Bengal “cannot release, and is not releasing, its chief secretary at this critical hour”. “The unilateral ord-er/directive is legally untenable, historically unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional,” it added.
There was no response to this missive but the second central government order to Bandyopadhyay reached Nabanna a little before 5 pm after the 1987-batch officer chose to go for superannuation instead of accepting the three-month extension. This letter referred to the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, and highlighted that the Centre’s decision would prevail in case of any disagreement with the state on central deputations. It informed Bandyopadhyay that he had been put on central deputation with “immediate effect” and was directed to rep-ort to North Block by 10am on Tuesday.
Bandyopadhyay has not commented on the two central government letters but his colleagues have spoken about his “feeling of hurt and sense of bewilderment” at the way things have turned out. CM Banerjee indicated that she would respond to the Centre’s second order to Bandyopadhyay.
“The Centre is perhaps not aware that since the afternoon of May 31, his (Bandyopadhyay’s) day of retirement, his services are no longer available,” the CM said, adding that he would continue to work at Nabanna post-retirement as her chief advisor for three years with additional charge of the Administrative Training Institute (ATI).
“We need his services badly. He has worked hard to bring Covid under control (in Bengal). We will not let him leave Nabanna,” she said. The CM said the centre’s “pettiness and vindictiveness” had no precedence in post-Independent India. “I respect him (Bandyopadhyay) for his guts, boldness, honesty and sincerity. How a bureaucrat was victimised would remain etched in history,” she added.
“I really do not understand what happened between your allowing extension on May 24, after a centre-state consultation, and your unilateral order (four days later) contradicting the extension granted by you. I sincerely hope this latest order is not related to my meeting with you at Kalaikunda. If that be the reason, it would be sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at the altar of misplaced priorities,” Banerjee’s Monday’s letter to Modi said.
The developments started last Friday, when a “brief” interaction between PM Modi and CM Banerjee in Kalaikunda — on the damage Bengal had suffered because of Cyclone Yaas — blew up into a political slugfest. The BJP charged her with disregarding the “spirit of federalism” by not attending a meet chaired by the PM. Not so, Banerjee said; she met Modi after the original meeting schedule was changed and new invitees added and left for an inspection of East Midnapore’s cyclone-affected parts after “seeking the PM’s permission”.
The state chief secretary accompanied Banerjee for that inspection and, a few hours later, received the centre’s order to report to Delhi by Momday morning. This came four days after the central government approved a three-month extension for him following a state government request because it needed him to continue as the chief secretary in view of the pandemic. A day later, on Saturday, CM Banerjee appealed to PM Modi to recall the “unprecedented order, guided by political vendetta”.
Bandyopadhyay on Monday attended a series of meetings dealing with Bengal’s Covid response and the post-Yaas situation at the state government headquarters, Nabanna. Both Banerjee’s letter to Modi — asking for the withdrawal of the shift order on Bandyopadhyay — and Bandyopadhyay’s decision to retire came on Monday, which were followed by the second order from the centre.

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