Irrespective of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s stance and conduct, the state’s then Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay should not have acted the way he did on May 28, government sources said today. The reference was to her leaving in haste a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by the senior IAS officer who, too, failed to make a scheduled presentation on Cyclone Yaas.
Earlier, the duo had arrived late for that meeting to review the extent of damage and loss caused to the state by the storm.
“Was Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s conduct and behaviour appropriate of the position he held? As senior most civil servant of the state how should he have behaved?” the government sources asked.
“Did he take a rational and judicious view and decision on the spot or was he completely left himself to the whims of chief minister so that his post-retiral could be handsomely rewarding?” they asked.
Following such public demonstration of the frayed ties between the state and the Union government, the 1987 batch IAS officer was asked, on the same evening of his truncated meeting with PM Modi, to report for Central duty — a move perceived by many as a reprimand, given the circumstances.
The Centre came under severe criticism for such abrupt transfer, with several former bureaucrats backing the West Bengal Chief Secretary.
However, instead of following the Centre’s order, Mr Bandyopadhyay retired as Chief Secretary on May 31. He was immediately appointed Chief Adviser to the West Bengal government.
Meanwhile, a show-cause notice was issued to him for his absence from the Cyclone Yaas review meet.
“A chief secretary can’t be working like personal staff of Chief Minister, no matter howsoever senior…He is Chief Secretary to the state, not to the Chief Minister,” the government sources said.
They hinted that if Central government officers in various departments refused to attend meetings called by the Chief Secretary, like Mr Bandyopadhyay did, it would amount to institutional breakdown of India’s federal structure.
“Would that not lead to anarchy? Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s conduct on May 28 has made a severe dent to IAS, the supposed ‘steel frame’ of India as devised by Sardar Patel,” the sources said.