Plea and caveats on chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay
Mamata Banerjee on Saturday appealed to the Centre to withdraw the letter issued on Friday asking chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to the department of personnel and training (DoPT) by May 31.
“I would request (the Centre) to withdraw the letter. Let him work for Bengal,” said the chief minister with folded hands during a news conference at Nabanna on Saturday
She requested the Prime Minister to ensure that IAS officers should not be victims of political vendetta while terming the order “unconstitutional, illegal and unilateral”. Mamata then stood by the chief secretary saying he was an officer of integrity and there was not a single complaint against him throughout his career.
Although no reason for the transfer was cited in the central order, it is believed that Bandyopadhyay became a target after he and the chief minister skipped a review meeting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had convened at Kalaikunda on Friday.
“What was the fault of the chief secretary? He was working with me.... The chief secretary is a state government officer.… Now, you issued an order unilaterally transferring him to the Centre without any consultation. Is it fair?” asked the chief minister.
Mamata said that it was unprecedented that the chief secretary was asked to join Delhi after his tenure was extended for three months.
“He was given a three-month extension to carry on the battle against Covid-19.… Now you are saying come back? Under which rule? You tell me, have you ever seen this type of incident in the last 74 years? You are not only disturbing me, you are disturbing my secretariat, you are disturbing my chief secretary,” said the chief minister.
She said she wanted to resolve the issue through dialogue between the state and the Centre but the situation turned critical after the Centre filed caveats — pleas to allow a hearing from the side of the Centre — in the central administrative tribunal and Calcutta High Court.
“See, we thought that we would sort out the issue through dialogues. But I heard today (Saturday) that they have filed caveats in the CAT and the high court. That means they are determined to go to court,” Mamata said.
“If one (meaning the Centre) goes to court, then we might have to go to court as well. But still I would say, let good sense prevail,” the chief minister added.
Sources in the state secretariat said that the chief minister would write a letter to the Prime Minister, as the DoPT reports to him, requesting him to withdraw the letter.
“The tenor of the letter would be conciliatory. This is a smart move by the chief minister as dialogues can solve issues. Issues like this can often get complicated if the state confronts the decision,” said a senior official.
Mamata also said that the order issued by the Centre has left the entire IAS fraternity shocked.
“Don’t you think that there are so many chief secretaries in so many states...All the chief secretaries are being humiliated. Don't you think the IAS officers have their lobby? They are very shocked as the unconstitutional, illegal and one-sided order was issued to humiliate the chief secretary, the chief minister and the state,” said the chief minister.
A senior bureaucrat said that the IAS community was indeed shocked with the order as the Centre did not follow norms before recalling the chief secretary.
“The Centre can depute any IAS officer to central deputation but that has to be done from a panel of officers who have applied for central deputation. Even joining the posting by the officer depends on whether the state releases the officer. In this case, neither had Bandyopadhyay applied for central deputation nor had the state recommended his name,” said a retired IAS officer.