The feud between the central government and the West Bengal government hit the pinnacle after Mamata Banerjee disrespected the Prime Minister and the Governor of West Bengal. On Friday, she had deliberately made them wait for 30 minutes at the Kalaikunda Air Base in Bengal’s West Midnapore district during the PM’s review of cyclone Yaas. The same evening, the central government issued an order to recall West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay from the state.
A letter signed by an under-secretary in the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions reached Nabanna on Friday evening, hours after Banerjee chose to skip the meeting with PM Modi to assess the impact of Cyclone Yaas, ordering the state government to “relieve Bandyopadhyay with immediate effect”.
Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-cadre IAS officer, known to be very close to CM Mamata Banerjee, has been deputed to the Ministry of Public Grievances and Pensions. He has been asked to report DOPT, North Block, New Delhi at 10 AM on May 31.
Alapan Bandyopadhyay was granted extension of services four days ago
The decision came barely four days after the centre granted an extension of services to Alapan Bandyopadhyay for three months at the request of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In a notification, issued on May 24 from the West Bengal state secretariat, Mamata Banerjee had asked for a three-month extension of service of current chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. Accordingly, Bandyopadhyay’s tenure was extended as the chief secretary by the central government on May 24.
On May 24, Banerjee, while announcing the extension, had said: “Our chief secretary has got an extension for three months. We are happy because he has got the experience of working during last year’s Amphan as well as during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic”.
Though Mamata Banerjee had not reacted immediately to the central government’s decision to recall Bandyopadhyay, people close to her have confirmed that the CM was “clearly unhappy” with the decision.
TMC criticised Centre’s move to recall the West Bengal Chief Secretary
Criticising the centre’s move, Trinamool MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said: “Has this ever happened since Independence? Forced central deputation of a Chief Secretary of a state. How much lower will Modi-Shah’s BJP stoop? All because people of Bengal humiliated the duo and chose Mamata Banerjee with an overwhelming mandate.”
This is, however, not the first time the centre has recalled top bureaucrats from states to Delhi. Just before the assembly election in Bengal this year, three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers were recalled.
The Home Ministry is the cadre controlling authority for IPS officers, while the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which gave the order today to recall the Bengal Chief Secretary, comes under the Prime Minister’s Office or PMO.
According to reports, the centre invoked Section 6(1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules while ordering the recall of the Bengal Chief Secretary.
The provisions read that a “cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the state governments concerned and the central government, be deputed for service under the central government or another state government. Provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the central government and the state government or state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the central government.”