Hours after Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that she would not send top Bengal officer Alapan Bandyopadhyay to Delhi, she announced that he had retired as Chief Secretary and would now serve as Chief Adviser to her government for three years.
Mamata Banerjee had made it clear that she would not follow the Centre’s order shifting Mr Bandyopadhyay to the Centre in the middle of her state’s Covid fight. The Centre, she said, responded by insisting that he has to report to Delhi.
After Mr Bandyopadhyay’s retirement, HK Dwivedi has taken over as Chief Secretary, she announced.
“They have given no reason. I am shocked. I have decided we need his service for the Covid pandemic. For Covid and for Cyclone Yaas, he must continue his service to the poor, the state, the country, the affected people…” the Chief Minister said.
“If a bureaucrat is insulted after he has dedicated his life to his work, what message is the government and PM sending out? Are they bonded labourers? There are many Bengali cadre officers at the Centre. Can I recall them without consultation, Mr Prime Minister? Mr Busy Prime Minister? Mr Mann-ki-baat Prime Minister?”
The Chief Secretary was ordered to report to the Centre at 10 am today in a recall order issued hours after Mamata Banerjee skipped a Cyclone Yaas review meeting with PM Modi.
She met with the Prime Minister briefly after his helicopter landed at the Kalaikunda air base in Bengal and left for another meeting. Top central government sources called her “petulant” and said “never before in the history of the Indian Republic has a Chief Minister of a state behaved in such an ugly, disrespectful and arrogant manner” with a Prime Minister.
In her letter, Ms Banerjee had written to PM Modi: “The government of 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.”
She added: “I am sure you will not inflict further suffering on the people of this state by taking away the services of an experienced officer, suddenly without any consultation and with no prior notice, whose continued presence in my state in these difficult times was accepted to be vital and necessary by your government four days back.”