The conduct of former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay before the prime minister has not only damaged the federal structure of India, but his behaviour reeks of pandering to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, government sources said today.
He acted as the “personal staff of Chief Minister" to “get handsomely rewarded post-retirement", they said.
Laying out the sequence of events of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bengal on May 28, sources said that the ex-chief secretary was supposed to make the presentation at the review meeting but not only did he reach late but also left without making the presentation.
Government sources raised questions on Bandopadhyay’s conduct and his refusal to brief the prime minister on cyclone Yaas. “Alapan Bandyopadhyay as Chief Secretary of West Bengal government was supposed to do the briefing to the PM and a follow-up. But when the PM arrived at the briefing room, Bandyopadhyay was not present. After he was contacted by an official from the Prime Minister’s delegation, he came inside the meeting room but is said to have left within two minutes, without attending the review meeting."
Sources also pointed out that Bandyopadhyay could have asked some other officer to take his place and brief the PM, instead of making the review redundant. “Let us assume for a moment that Bandyopadhyay was really occupied and couldn’t have avoided his pre-scheduled engagements but the big question is what prevented him from deputing a senior officer to attend the review meeting on his behalf?" a top government source said.
The Center also accused the now chief advisor to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee of acting as the personal staff of the chief minister. The Union government questioned if his action was motivated by the urge to get post-retirement benefits from the state government.
Bandopadhyay was sent a directive to report to North Bloc in Delhi by the Centre, shortly after a row broke out following his truncated meeting with the PM. Banerjee had chosen to meet the Prime Minister for just 15 minutes instead of a longer, planned review meeting, upset that her former aide, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari too had been called for the meeting at Kalaikunda airbase to review the damage wrought by cyclone ‘Yaas’.
The bureaucrat, instead of reporting to Delhi, chose to retire amid the Centre-state tussle. He was subsequently appointed as the CM’s chief adviser. The Union Home Ministry then served a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment up to two years.
Bandopadhyay was given three days to respond as to why action should not be taken against him for his refusal to brief the PM, who is the head of NDMA. Bandopadhyay is likely to send his response to the north block tomorrow. Banerjee on Wednesday said her government will back the former chief secretary who could face criminal prosecution and imprisonment up to 1 year if found guilty of violating section 51 of DM ACT.
Sources said that IAS officers are to act as a bridge between centre and state, augment the federal structure and not ‘dent the steel frame of India’.
“Would that not lead to anarchy? Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s conduct on May 28 has made a severe dent to IAS, the supposed ‘steel frame’ of India as devised by Sardar Patel," the sources said.