She was one of the most important and visible bureaucrats of the state for quite a few years straddling both the Left Front regime and the Mamata Banerjee administration and one of the very few officials who successfully made the transition smoothly.
But on Tuesday, Nandini Chakravarty’s luck seemed to have run out as she was transferred from the high-profile information & cultural affairs (I&CA) department to that of the editor, West Bengal State Gazetteers (WBSZ), one of the most least important positions usually not reserved for any IAS officer.
Rumours are going around in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings that there were rumblings of discontent among an increasing section of officials of the state I&CA department against her alleged favouritism towards select advertising agencies and event management companies.
As the boss of I&CA department, she needed to constantly interact and employ advertising agencies releasing advertisements and organising events of the government.
A few months ago Chakravarty held four important responsibilities simultaneously — special secretary of I&CA department, MD of WBIDC, CEO of West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation and director of WBITPO — giving her a power and influence very few could match in the entire administrative structure of the state.
On Wednesday, Chakravarty did not respond to HT’s calls and text messages. However, Chakravarty was no stranger to controversy. She was known to be close to a particular NRI businessman.
HT has documents that show how the Left Front government empowered to deal with the group bypassing her superior in West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC).
The note written by former industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen on November 2, 2009 empowers her to deal directly with that company bypassing her boss the managing director of WBIDC. Chakravarty was the executive director of WBIDC then.
According to both rules and convention, the government acts in a strictly hierarchical manner and no superior can issue any orders asking a junior to bypass those between them. The note makes no secret of the bypassing of the MD, WBIDC and the industry secretary also managed to get the consent of the former industry minister Nirupam Sen.
Industry department officials also alleged in mid 2010 when she was transferred from WBIDC to West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBIIDC) as chief executive officer, she even took WBIDC files related to that business group (mostly land deals) to WBIIDC.
Even after the change of regime, Chakravarty gained fast access to the chief minister. Sources from the industry department told HT, several investors complained about her bias towards the NRI businessman.Now the bureaucratic circle is interpreting her transfer as editor of WBSZ a downfall and not really a transfer.
The post is always held as additional charge by any bureaucrat, generally the secretary of the higher education department. Before Chakravarty’s transfer, the existing state higher education secretary, Vivek Kumar, held the post as an additional charge. “This is a post that deserves to be handled independently by a WBCS officer and not an IAS officer,” a bureaucrat said.