Bengal ex-chief secy responds to Centre notice

Updated on Jun 04, 2021 02:47 AM IST

State officials told PTI that Bandyopadhyay argued that he left the Cyclone Yaas review meeting as per the directive of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and went to another meeting in Digha, a resort town in Purba Medinipur district that was ravaged by the powerful storm.

WB CM Mamata Banerjee with state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay during a meeting, in Kolkata. (PTI Photo)
WB CM Mamata Banerjee with state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay during a meeting, in Kolkata. (PTI Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, Kolkata

Former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Thursday responded to the Union home ministry’s show-cause notice sent to him for missing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 28 meeting, said officials at Nabanna, the state secretariat in Kolkata.

State officials told PTI that Bandyopadhyay argued that he left the Cyclone Yaas review meeting as per the directive of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and went to another meeting in Digha, a resort town in Purba Medinipur district that was ravaged by the powerful storm.

The Centre sent the notice on May 31, insisting that Bandyopadhyay’s decision to leave the PM’s meeting was a violation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The political firestorm began after Banerjee briefly met Modi and told reporters that she took the PM’s permission before leaving the venue -- a fact later disputed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. She also indicated her objection to the presence of her protege-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari, who is the leader of Opposition in Bengal.

Soon after this, Bandyopadhyay was sent transfer orders from Delhi and told to report to the Centre’s department of personnel and training on May 31. The 1987-batch Indian Administrative Service officer was due to retire that day but had received a three-month extension from the central government.

The order was unusual because it didn’t specify what post he was to hold. Banerjee declined to release him. On Monday, she also wrote to the PM to request that the transfer order, issued without consulting the state, should be withdrawn. On May 31, she said she allowed Bandyopadhyay to retire and appointed him as special adviser to the CM for three years.

The Centre, which initially suggested that it would initiate action against Bandyopadhyay for not coming to Delhi, issued the show-cause notice under a provision of the disaster management law that requires everyone to abide by any direction given by officials 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, 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,” read the letter signed by Ashish Kumar Singh, under secretary to the government of India.

Bandyopadhyay sent his reply on Thursday, but officials at Nabanna refused to divulge the contents of the letter.

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