The Centre’s recall of chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay to Delhi and the series of events that led to his superannuation on Monday have not gone down well with a section of the state BJP unit, and the incident is being seen as proof of the ever-widening rift between the national and state leaders in the saffron camp.
Sources in the BJP’s state unit feel that central leaders of the party are carrying forward the mistakes of the Assembly poll campaign and continue to overlook the sentiment of the people of Bengal who think injustice is being done to Bandyopadhyay, a Bengali chief secretary.
“There is no doubt that Alapanbabu is a decorated and able officer. What is being done to him is tantamount to harassment and citizens of the state aren’t taking it well,” a BJP state office-bearer said.
“If the central leadership had discussed with us before going all out against Alapanbabu, we would have advised against it,” this source added.
Several other leaders, speaking to The Telegraph, said “leaders in Delhi” were oblivious of the ground reality existing in the state. Top rungs of the saffron camp refuse to learn from the poll drubbing, several BJP leaders said.
“The common Bengali isn’t happy with Alapanbabu being harassed. Neither is a major section of our own leaders. But Delhiwallahs refuse to accept that,” said a state unit leader of the BJP’s women wing. The leader reminded that the fuss over Bandyopadhyay’s recall had helped chief minister Mamata Banerjee establish, once again, that BJP was unaware of the Bengal reality.
“Bengal might not have another Bengali chief secretary in a long time. Our leaders just proved Mamatadi right once again,” the leader added.
Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, however, accused journalists in Bengal of blowing the issue out of proportion. Ghosh said: “The government has failed to perform its duties during the cyclone…victims of post-poll violence have not returned home…The media is trying to deviate from these issues by focusing on Alapan.”
Trinamul MP and spokesperson Saugata Roy said he was not aware of who in the BJP “think injustice is being done to Alapanbabu”. “If true, it shows there are some sensible people in the BJP.”
The controversy on Alapan brought Trinamul critics CPM and the Congress on the same page. CPM leader Rabin Deb accused the BJP of trying to deviate attention from the Centre’s failure to control the second wave of the pandemic by harassing a senior IAS officer. “The chief minister has in fact been very courteous on this matter and had asked the Union government to rethink. Yet they didn’t reconcile,” Deb said. Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya said: “The chief secretary has turned down the extension offer and no disciplinary action can be taken against him. The Centre should not have recalled him.”
“The state government and the CM shouldn’t complicate things any further because of the pandemic situation. The Centre and the state should work together in the interest of the people,” Bhattacharya added.