Bengal Chief Secretary row: Mamata writes to Modi
Kolkata, May 31, 2021
On the day when West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay was asked to report to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) in New Delhi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, confirming that the state is not going to release the officer.
She also urged him to withdraw the letter of recall so that Bandopadhyay could continue to head the administration in the difficult times of Covid crisis and in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas.
"I humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so-called order in larger public interest.
"The Government of West Bengal cannot release, and is not releasing, its Chief Secretary at this critical hour, on the basis of our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation in accordance with applicable laws, remains operational and valid.
"The latest order is also clearly in violation of applicable laws and against public interest: it is in any case ab initio void," the Chief Minister wrote.
"I sincerely look forward to earnest federal cooperation in these grim times, the spirit in which I had flown to Kalaikunda to see you on 28th May, 2021. I am sure that you will not inflict further suffering on the people of this State by taking away the services of an experienced officer (the head of the bureaucratic cadre in the State), suddenly without any consultation and with no prior notice whose continued presence in my State in these difficult times is accepted to be vital and necessary by your government even 4 days back," she added.
Expressing her shock over the unilateral decision taken by the Centre, the Chief Minister wrote, "The unilateral 'order' comes without any prior consultation whatsoever with the Government of West Bengal, without any volition / option of the officer, without meeting any of the pre-conditions of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 and other applicable laws under reference. The unilateral order / directive is legally untenable, historically unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional."
The Chief Minister was referring to the letter written by the DoPT in which Bandopadhyay was asked to join the central government on May 31.
Bandopadhyay was supposed to retire normally on May 31, but he was given an extension of three months following the state government's request.
"Only a few days back, on my request, you had kindly allowed, and the Government of India had issued an order to extend his service for 3 months as Chief Secretary, beyond 31st May, 2021 for the purpose that he could serve the State severely affected by the second wave of the pandemic of COVID-19 (like the rest of the country) in critical times, which has further been devastated by an extremely severe cyclone," Banerjee wrote.
In her five-page letter, she also said, "I really do not understand what happened between your allowing extension to the officer as Chief Secretary a few days back on 24th May, 2021 after Centre-State consultation to enable him to serve the State of West Bengal in these times, and your unilateral order (4 days later) issued in contradiction to the extension granted by you."
"The unilateral order also does not provide any details, reasons and/ or particulars as to why 'central deputation of Sri Alapan Bandyopadhyay IAS, Chief Secretary, West Bengal required suddenly by you only few days after granting an order of extension following, due consultation process," she said.