‘Shocked, stunned’ Mamata writes to PM Modi, says can’t release chief secretary
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Centre's order recalling state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. She made the request in a letter to the PM and said her government "is not releasing" the top bureaucrat. Bandyopadhyay's service was recently extended for three months so that he could continue to serve in the state as it faced the deadly coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis after "mutual written consultations" and "in accordance with the due process", the CM said.
Adding that she was "shocked and stunned" by the order as it comes with no prior consultation with the state government, she asked PM Modi to rescind it in public interest. "I humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so-called order in larger public interest. I appeal to your conscience and good sense, on the behalf of the people of West Bengal," she wrote.
"The West Bengal government cannot release, and is not releasing its chief secretary at this critical hour, on the basis of our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation in accordance with applicable laws, remains operational and valid," she further wrote.
In her five page long letter, the CM also said she hoped the Centre's decision to recall the chief secretary had nothing to do with her meeting with PM Modi at West Bengal's Kalaikunda Air Force Station last week. "I rescheduled everything to rush to Kalaikunda to attend the meeting with you, accompanied by the chief secretary of my state. I was detained at Sagar...and yet I reached before the scheduled meeting to show utmost respect for your office..." she said in her letter.
During the meeting, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, a few other Union ministers and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA were also present, according to the letter. "The Governor had no role to play in the meeting..." the CM wrote. "...an individual MLA, having no locus, attending the meeting was unacceptable," she added.
Signing off, Mamata Banerjee said she looked forward to the Centre's cooperation during these grim times. "I am sure you will not inflict further suffering on the people of this state by taking away the services of an experienced officer...suddenly without any consultation..." she said.