Ex-Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay responds to Centre’s notice
West Bengal’s former chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has responded to the Union home ministry’s show-cause notice sent to him for missing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting on May 28.
Officials at Nabanna, the West Bengal government’s secretariat in state capital Kolkata, said Bandyopadhyay sent his reply on Thursday afternoon. But they refused to divulge the contents of the letter.
The Centre sent the show cause notice to Alapan Bandyopadhyay on 31 May, insisting that his decision to miss the meeting convened by Prime Minister Modi during the PM's visit to Bengal in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas was a violation of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
The notice was issued after Bandyopadhyay, a 1987 batch Indian Administrative Service officer, decided to retire on May 31 rather than avail the three month extension granted to him by the government.
The soft-spoken bureaucrat was caught in the middle of a political firestorm after chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided to skip PM Modi’s meeting held in Bengal after she learnt that there was a change in the format of the meeting. She later told reporters that Bengal BJP leaders were also invited to attend the meeting that was originally scheduled as a one-on-one between her and PM Modi. Alapan Bandyopadhyay and other senior Bengal officials also didn’t attend the meeting.
Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s transfer orders from New Delhi came soon after Prime Minister Modi, ordering the IAS officer to report to the Centre’s department of personnel and training on May 31. The order to transfer Bandyopadhyay to the Centre was unusual; he wasn’t even told which post he would hold in the central government. Besides, he hadn’t asked for the transfer and wasn’t empanelled to hold any senior position at the Centre.
Mamata Banerjee sought to insulate her official and declined to release him. On Monday morning, she also wrote to Prime Minister Modi to request that the unilateral transfer order, issued without consulting the state government, should be withdrawn. When she didn’t get a response to her letter, Bandyopadhyay decided to retire from the civil services.
Mamata Banerjee, who announced Bandyopadhyay’s decision to retire, said she had decided to hire Bandyopadhyay as special adviser to the chief minister on a three-year-term.
The Centre, which had initially suggested that it would initiate action against him for not packing up his bags and coming to Delhi, issued the show cause notice under the Disaster Management Act under a provision that requires everyone to abide by any direction given by officials conconcerned during a disaster.
“By this act of abstaining himself from the review meeting taken by the Prime Minister, who is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas as part of his visit to cyclone affected areas in the state of West Bengal, Sri Alapan Bandopadhyay, chief secretary, government of West Bengal, acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the Central government and is thus violative of Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act 2005,” said the letter signed by Ashish Kumar Singh, under secretary to the Government of India.