Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee wrote a 5-page letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi refusing to relieve Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Chief Secretary, West Bengal. In her letter, she called the union government’s order asking Bandyopadhyay to report to North Block by 10 AM on Monday ‘wholly unconstitutional’. She said, “I have been shocked and stunned by the unilateral order sent to us by the Government of India, asking us to release Sri Alapan Bandyopadhyay IAS, Chief Secretary, West Bengal, so that he may join the Government of India on May 31, 2021.”
BREAKING: #WestBengal CM Mamata Banerjee writes a 5 page letter today, refuses to relive her CS #AlapanBandyopadhyay . Raises issue of Suvendu Adhikari’s inclusion at cyclone review meeting, once again. pic.twitter.com/AiTPMXJCH5— Anindya (@AninBanerjee) May 31, 2021
In her letter, the WB CM alleged that the order came without any prior consultation with the Government of West Bengal which is in violation of Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 and other applicable laws. She further added that the CS was granted an extension to his service in WB for three months so that “he could serve the State severely affected by the second wave of the pandemic of COVID-19 in critical times which has further been devastated by an extremely severe cyclone.”
In the letter, she said that she hoped the latest order was not related to the meeting between PM and CM at Kalaikunda and if that was the reason it would be “sad, unfortunate and would amount to sacrificing public interest at, the altar of misplaced priorities.”
Mamata expressed displeasure at the presence of Suvendu Adhikari in the meeting
CM Banerjee said she was looking for “a quiet word with the PM” and blamed PM for “revising the structure of the meeting” by including a local MLA from BJP (Suvendu Adhikari). She said, “and I am of the view (based on my knowledge of the affairs in the State for about 40 years) that he had no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting,” and called his presence “unacceptable”. She further claimed that WB CS sent several messages to the senior officer accompanying PM to get the issue sorted but there was no “positive response”.
It is notable here that Suvendu Adhikari is the leader of opposition in the Bengal assembly.
Banerjee alleged PM gave her permission to leave
CM Banerjee further alleged that she took permission from the PM to leave for Digha after handing over the report to him. She has written, “keeping aside my legitimate reservations, I entered the meeting with the Chief Secretary of my state to hand over our report to you. You took the report from my hand, and then I specifically and expressly sought permission from you for us to leave for Digha, our next cyclone-ravaged destination, where a meeting was due and participants were waiting. You expressly permitted us to take our leave.”
“West Bengal Govt can’t release & is not releasing its Chief Secretary at this critical hours,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to PM requesting to withdraw, recall, reconsider the decision & rescind latest so-called order— ANI (@ANI) May 31, 2021
Accusing the Union government of taking a rash decision she said, “The decision seems to have been taken with mala fide intention and in hot haste.” She further added, “I therefore humbly request withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so-called order in the larger public interest. The Government of West Bengal cannot release, and is not releasing, its Chief Secretary at this critical hour, based on our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation in accordance with applicable laws, remains operational and valid.”
Centre had recalled WB CS on May 29
On May 29, the centre had recalled West Bengal Chief Secretary to Delhi and asked the state govt to release him with ‘immediate effect’. 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. 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. 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.