The Centre on Friday recalled West Bengal Chief Secretary after the Modi-Mamata meeting conflict emerged. Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, will now have to report to the Delhi’s Department of Personnel and Training’s office by May 31. It should be noted that Bandyopadhyay’s tenure was very recently extended for another 3 more months.
On May 28, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee skipped her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and instead chose to meet the Prime Minister for 15-minutes at the airbase where PM landed. The PM and West Bengal CM were to meet in regards to the current Yass Cyclone situation and its assessment. On reaching the airbase, CM Banerjee told PM Modi that she had a meeting scheduled at Digha and left for the region after handing PM Modi her Yass cyclone damage review report.
On Friday night, the Centre asked for the services of West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and asked the West Bengal government to relieve him immediately. The 1987-batch IAS Officer was actually supposed to retire on May 31 after completing 60 years of age. However, after the West Bengal govt sought his extension, the Centre agreed to it and he was granted another 3-months of extension. After the developments which emerged on Friday, the West Bengal chief secretary was instructed to report to the Centre’s New Delhi office on May 31.
The Order passed by the Centre
In a letter, the appointment committee of the DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) said that it-
“approved placement of the services of Alapan Bandyopadhyay, an IAS officer of 1987 batch, with the government of India, as per provisions of Rule 6(1) of the Indian Administrative Service (cadre) rules, 1954 with immediate effect.”
The Rule 6(1) of the IAS (cadre) rules states that any cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the state government and the central government, be deputed for the service at either the Central government or any other state government, or a government entity.
The Centre’s rule means that the West Bengal government will have to release the Chief Secretary by 10 am, May 31.
Implication of the move on West Bengal government
A chief secretary is a major ally to a state’s chief minister. Alapan Bandyopadhyay had made himself a resourceful person as he used to chair several committees pertaining to COVID-19 management and Cyclone Yaas relief and rehabilitation. For these reasons, CM Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Modi earlier this month and asked him to grant Bandyopadhyay an extension of 3 months. Centre’s move to call him back to Delhi could not only have an impact on the Banerjee’s governance, but the citizens of the state could also be indirectly face repercussions.
What happened during the Modi-Mamata meeting?
On Friday, the row between the Centre and West Bengal government took another sharp turn when the West Bengal CM skipped a meeting with prime Minister Modi. The two political leaders were to have a meeting regarding the destruction caused by the Yaas cyclone and the relief efforts that were to be made for the West Bengal citizens.
However, instead of taking part in the meeting, the West Bengal CM chose to interact with the PM for 15-minutes at the airbase where he landed, handed the Prime Minister a report and left.
After the conflict, Banerjee was quoted by ANI saying-
“The Prime Minister called a meeting. We did not know that I had a meeting scheduled in Digha. I handed him the report asking for ₹20,000 crore for Digha development and ₹10,000 crore for Sundarban development. I told him that state government officials had a meeting with me so I took his permission and left.”
She also took to Twitter and wrote, “After having review meetings in Hingalganj and Sagar, I met the Hon’ble PM in Kalaikunda and apprised him regarding the post-cyclone situation in WB. The disaster report has been handed over for his perusal. I’ve proceeded now to review the relief and restoration work at Digha.”
After having review meetings in Hingalganj & Sagar, I met the Hon’ble PM in Kalaikunda & apprised him regarding the post-cyclone situation in WB. The disaster report has been handed over for his perusal. I’ve proceeded now to review the relief & restoration work at Digha.
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) May 28, 2021
Meanwhile, BJP flag bearer and CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath along with PM Modi’s ally & Union Home Minister Amit Shah criticized the incident.
Mamata Didi’s conduct today is an unfortunate low. Cyclone Yaas has affected several common citizens and the need of the hour is to assist those affected. Sadly, Didi has put arrogance above public welfare and today’s petty behaviour reflects that.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) May 28, 2021
Non-cooperation by @MamataOfficial with Centre is blatant violation of constitutional norms & against the ethos of cooperative federalism.
Absence from PM's meeting shows her insensitivity towards welfare and betterment of people of Bengal at difficult times due to Cyclone Yaas.
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) May 28, 2021