The Tug-of-War between Centre and WB over the State Chief Secretary, explained

Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay retired from service on May 31, declining the extension.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has retired from service after the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under Ministry of Personnel on May 28 had directed him to report to its office. In his place, State Home Secretary HK Dwivedi has been appointed as the new State Chief Secretary. Meanwhile, Alapan Bandyopadhyay will now serve as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Advisor for the next three years.

Bandyopadhyay was set to retire as the State Chief Secretary on May 31 but was given an extension of three months after the centre approved a proposal submitted by the state to extend his tenure by three months till August 31. However, after CM Banerjee had allegedly skipped a review meeting on cyclone Yaas with the Prime Minister, the centre recalled Bandyopadhyay to New Delhi within hours of the incident.

Mamata Banerjee however later said that she had met the Prime Minister to apprise him regarding the post-cyclone situation in the state and had left with his due permission. Leader of Opposition from the BJP and TMC turncoat Suvendu Adhikari was also reportedly present at the meeting. Mamata Banerjee had questioned his presence at the meeting. Later, Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Prime Minister that the state would not release Bandyopadhyay for the Centre’s deputation. Thereafter, on May 31, Bandyopadhyay retired, declining the three-month extension. 

However, experts suggest that the action of the centre was not just unprecedented but also vindictive. In a report published by the Hindu, Vappala Balachandran, former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat noted, “Legally speaking it is the Centre that holds ultimate control. But there is also a custom that an officer will not be deputed against his/her own will. This order is unilateral and an awkward step, unbecoming of the Central government specially after they gave due extension. This officer superannuates on May 31, if he refuses to join, can the Centre exercise its right on a retired officer?”

Digbijoy Ghose

Digbijoy Ghose

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