The Trinamool Congress on Tuesday hit out at the BJP-led central government accusing it of trying to disturb the functioning of the West Bengal government by initiating disciplinary proceedings against Alapan Bandyopadhyay, former chief secretary of the state. The TMC also claimed that petulance has become part of state policy of the Narendra Modi government and the action against Bandyopadhyay, now working as an advisor to the chief minister, amounted to opening of a provocative chapter in federal conflicts.
The BJP however, denied the charges as "baseless" and accused the Mamata Banerjee-led party of politicising the bureaucracy. "The BJP has resorted to disturb the functional affairs of the government of West Bengal to further its political agenda its humiliating defeat in the election.
"It is the prime minister who sits at the helm of the DoPT, and there's no point in guessing that this is nothing but personal rage, which is desperately finding a venting point to roar," senior TMC MP and party spokesperson Sougata Ray said. The comments by the TMC came a day after the Centre initiated "major penalty proceedings" against Bandyopadhyay, amid a tug-of-war between the Union government and the Mamata Banerjee dispensation over him, which may deprive him of post-retirement benefits, partially or fully.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has sent Bandyopadhyay, who retired on May 31 and is now the chief advisor to the CM, a "memorandum" mentioning the charges giving him 30 days to reply. Referring to the death of Bandyopadhyay's mother a few days back, Ray claimed that the Central government is also heartless.
"They (the Centre) simply want to deprive Alapan of the benefits that he was entitled to post-retirement. After losing (the poll in) Bengal, the BJP is trying to create unnecessary tussle in the functioning of the state government.part of state policy, Modi has opened a provocative chapter in federal conflicts," he said.
The action initiated against Bandyopadhyay is inhuman, Ray claimed. "The TMC condemns it. People of West Bengal also are seeing how the central government is harassing an honest officer. People of Bengal will not tolerate such humiliation," he said.
The West Bengal BJP denied the charges and claimed that it is the state's ruling party which has politicised bureaucracy. "We have nothing personal against Alapan Bandyopadhyay or anyone else. He was an all-India cadre officer, and the matter is between him and the union government. It is the TMC which has politicised the police and bureaucracy and have been using them to serve its political interests," state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.
Bandopadhyay was set to retire on May 31, but the state had recently sought and received permission for extension of his tenure by three months as he played a crucial role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He was, however, handed over a transfer directive by the DoPT, shortly after a row broke out over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's post-cyclone review meeting, which the CM and the state chief secretary did not attend.
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 DoPT had sent him a reminder after he failed to report in response to its May 28 order.
The Union Home Ministry has also slapped a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment for up to two years for abstaining from the meeting presided over by the PM. The notice said Bandyopadhyay "acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the central government". Bandyopadhyay had responded to the Home Ministry's notice.