In a long letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was “shocked and stunned" by the “unilateral order" asking Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to the Centre, and made it clear that the state government “is not releasing" him.
“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," Banerjee wrote.
The chief minister termed the order “legally untenable, historically unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional."
The West Bengal government has decided not to send Bandyopadhyay on central deputation May 31, the day of his retirement.
Bandyopadhyay was to report to Delhi at 10 am but Banerjee in the letter said he will stay and continue to manage her state’s Covid crisis.
Bengal has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and Cyclone Yaas, Banerjee said, adding that the state government “cannot release and is not releasing its chief secretary [Alapan Bandyopadhyay] at this critical hour."
The Chief Secretary was ordered to move to the Centre after a row over Mamata Banerjee not attending a meeting with PM Modi on Friday.
Bandyopadhyay was given a three-month extension till August 31. He was due for retirement on May 31. The extension was proposed by the West Bengal government and approved by the union government on May24.
She also raised the issue of Suvendu Adhikari’s presence the meeting chaired by Modi to review the preparedness for Cyclone ‘Yaas’. “I wanted to have a quiet word with you, a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister as usual. You however revised the structure of the meeting to include a local MLA from your party and I am of the view that he had no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting. You had invited the Governor and some union ministers also in the meeting and I had not objected to, but an individual MLA, having no locus, attending the meeting was unacceptable," Banerjee wrote.
She said the State Chief Secretary and Director (Security) contacted the officials accompanying the prime minister for a one-to-one meeting but their repeated attempts went in vain. “The decision (recall letter) seems to have been taken with mala fide intention and in hot haste," she writes.
“Respected sir, I therefore humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so called in larger public interest because we cannot release, and it not releasing, the State 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," Mamata’s letter to PM Modi reads.
Meanwhile, TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy tweeted, “In absence of any proposal from Centre for ‘concurrence’ of the State under Rule 6(1) of IAS Cadre Rules,1954, the unilateral order for placement of Chief Secretary of Bengal in Central Service is arbitrary, vexatious and ex facie illegal. This requires to be deprecated, cancelled”