Alapan Bandopadhyay, the officer in the core of the latest flashpoint between Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been served notice by the Centre for skipping a meeting chaired by the PM.
Mr Bandyopadhyay retired yesterday as Bengal’s Chief Secretary and was immediately appointed Chief Adviser by Mamata Banerjee, who had refused to release him after the Centre ordered his transfer on Friday.
A show-cause notice put out last evening asks him to explain his absence from PM Modi’s meeting on Cyclone Yaas in Bengal. The Centre has served notice under the Disaster Management Act and asked Mr Bandopadhyay to respond within three days.
Mamata Banerjee and her team had on Friday begged off the meeting with PM Modi to review the impact of Cyclone Yaas in Bengal and left after a brief interaction with the Prime Minister at the air base where he had landed after an aerial review. One of her reasons for doing so was the presence of her former aide-turned-BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari at the meeting.
Mamata Banerjee has since asserted she had other scheduled meetings and due to bad weather had to fly out for those at the earliest. She also said she left only with the Prime Minister’s permission.
The Centre later accused her of behaving in an “ugly, disrespectful and arrogant manner” and insulting PM Modi. The same evening, Ms Banerjee’s top officer, Mr Bandopadhyay, received a recall order and was asked to report to the Centre on Monday.
The Centre’s show cause notice steers clear of the fact that Mr Bandopadhyay did not do so yesterday. Ms Banerjee hit out at the Centre for not giving a reason for summoning Bengal’s top bureaucrat to Delhi, calling it “vendetta” and adding that she had never seen anything so “heartless”.
The show cause notice to Mr Bandyopadhyay focuses on the review meet controversy and says on Friday, PM Modi and other members of his entourage waited for nearly 15 minutes for the officers of the Bengal government to arrive.
“In view of the absence, the Chief Secretary (Mr Bandyopadhay) was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the review meeting or not. Thereafter, Chief Secretary arrived along with Chief Minister of West Bengal inside the meeting room and left thereafter immediately,” the Centre says.
The notice has been issued on the premise that the meeting that the officer failed to attend involved “affairs of the Centre”.
The law says it’s the state government that can take disciplinary action against an officer working under the state, but in this case, the notice follows the argument that the Chief Secretary “refused to attend” a review meet called by the Centre.