Endless fight: Alapan Bandyopadhyay vs Centre
Sir — The sudden recalling of the former chief secretary of West Bengal, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, after the Centre had granted the state’s request for the extension of his service for another three months in view of the pandemic, exposes the Union government’s utter lack of respect for the federal structure of the country (“Bitter fruit”, June 2). It is obvious that the decision was a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the Narendra Modi government, and points to a political vendetta.
In a functioning federal democracy, the Centre does not impose arbitrary and unilateral decisions, such as the one taken in the case of Bandyopadhyay, on state governments. It is a pity that the continuing political acrimony between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamul Congress has escalated to such an extent that senior bureaucrats are now being involved in the face-off. It is unfortunate that the government of West Bengal has to deal with an insensitive Centre at the time of an unprecedented health crisis.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — It seems that the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is hell-bent on making the situation difficult for Mamata Banerjee. This time the Centre’s directive to the former West Bengal chief secretary to report to Delhi, weeks after his extension had been granted, came as a shock. Alapan Bandyopadhyay has since chosen to hand in his resignation and has decided to serve the chief minister of West Bengal in a special capacity.
It is obvious to all that the move was motivated by the intention to weaken Banerjee’s government which is not only battling the coronavirus pandemic but is also in the midst of rehabilitating those affected by the Cyclone Yaas. Thus, Bandyopadhyay’s decision to refuse the Centre’s directive in favour of Banerjee must come as a rude shock to the Union government. It is shameful that the Centre sought to use a senior bureaucrat as a pawn in this tussle between itself and the state. There is no doubt that this move has displeased officials serving in the civil services. This misstep will cost the Modi government dearly in the near future.
Ramnagar, East Burdwan
Sir — The resignation of the chief secretary of Bengal, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, and his subsequent appointment as chief adviser to Mamata Banerjee for a period of three years draws attention to the deteriorating condition between the Centre and the states. This episode further underlines how bitter political fights such as this one could dent an already weakened bureaucracy and hamper its functioning. It is the responsibility of the Centre and the states to uphold the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution and ensure that a consultative process is maintained.
Sir — Bhaswati Chakravorty has rightly highlighted that the classroom is much more than just a space for textbooks and grading (“Crossed lines”, May 28). In schools, pupils learn in a systematic way under the physical guidance of teachers. Moreover, children learn crucial life lessons in their interactions with peers which shape them as well-rounded individuals. But it seems that the government does not agree with this notion and has continued to push for online teaching. It must recognize that education requires more than what can be taught through screens.
Sir — Recently, Nestlé came under fire when an internal document revealed that a majority of its products failed to meet the ‘recognized definition of health’. Since then, the company has stated that it is working to update its health strategy to ensure that its products meet nutritional needs. This is, however, not the first time the company has failed to uphold food safety standards — in 2015, Maggi was banned in India after it tested positive for high lead content. Belated apologies mean little when it comes to people’s health. It is high time that Nestlé is held accountable for its missteps.