Alapan Bandopahyay retires as Bengal chief secretary, to be CM Mamata's special advisor
West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, at the centre of a faceoff between the state government and the central government, retired on Monday and was appointed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee as her special advisor. The development came on a day the West Bengal government refused to relieve Bandopadhyay to serve with the Centre in New Delhi, calling the order in this regard "unprecedented" and "unilateral."
The top bureaucrat was due to retire on May 31, but was given a three-month extension to help manage the Covid-19 situation in the state, as well the situation post-Cyclone Yaas, which hit West Bengal last week.
“Since Alapan Bandopadhyay has retired from his service today, he is not going to join in Delhi. I will not allow him to leave (state secretariat) Nabanna,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The chief minister also announced that home secretary HK Dwivedi will be the new chief secretary, while BP Gopalika will take over as the new home secretary.
Earlier in the day on Monday, Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, informing him of her government’s decision to not relieve Bandopadhyay, and also objecting to the Centre’s decision to transfer him to the Capital. Later, speaking at a Covid-19 and Cyclone Yaas review meeting, she said that the chief secretary “has responsibility here.”
Last Friday, the Union government shunted Bandopadhyay to New Delhi, just hours after Banerjee "skipped" a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the impact of the cyclone in the eastern state. In its order, the department of personnel and training (DoPT), directed the officer to report to duty at 10am on May 31.
The episode marks yet another confrontation between the two sides following the arrests of three leaders from the chief minister’s Trinamool Congress (TMC), as well as a former TMC leader, on May 17 in connection with the Narada sting operation case. On May 28, all four were granted interim bail by the Calcutta high court.