Team of doctors comprising orthopaedic surgeon and physical medicine expert have advised the chief minister Mamata Banerjee who also holds health portfolio to take rest at home for another seven days.
Hours after chief minister Mamata Banerjee shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi refusing to release state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, the latter retired and was appointed as the chief adviser to the chief minister, thus apparently ending the ongoing Centre-state tussle over his extension.
Mr Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch IAS officer of the West Bengal cadre, was scheduled to retire on 31 May after completion of 60 years of age. However, he was granted a three-month extension following a nod from the Centre to work on COVID management.
“I will not allow Alapan to leave Nabanna. We need his service for Covid pandemic. Our chief secretary retired today….. He didn’t ask for an extension, we asked for his service to the public during Covid and cyclone. It is up to Alapan to accept the extension. I could have forced him to continue as chief secretary. But when he requested me that he wanted to retire, I gave him permission. The Centre cannot force him to join without his consent,” Miss Banerjee said after the Centre issued a letter to Mr Bandopadhyay this evening asking him to report to North Block, New Delhi.
Mr Bandopadhyay will advise the chief minister on policy matters or areas assigned to him from time to time and will be entitled to Rs 2.5 lakh per month along with other allowances, said Miss Banerjee.
“They have given no reason. I am shocked. They have also not replied to my letter. If a bureaucrat is insulted after he has dedicated his life to his work, what message is the government and PM sending out? Are they bonded labourers? There are many Bengali cadre officers at the Centre. Can I recall them without consultation, Mr Prime Minister? Mr Busy Prime Minister? Mr Mann-ki-baat Prime Minister?” she further questioned.
Miss Banerjee appealed to all chief ministers, chief secretaries, IAS and IPS officers, state services officers, senior leaders, NGOs and intellectuals to fight for this cause together. “If the Centre moves the court then they would not be able to justify their move as being a lawyer myself I know that this order is unconstitutional and illegal,” she said.
Earlier this morning, in a five-page letter, Miss Banerjee urged the prime minister to reconsider the Centre’s decision to recall the chief secretary after giving him a three-month extension and said that she was shocked by the Centre’s decision, terming the order as “unilateral”, which was issued “without any prior consultation” with the state government.
“This so-called unilateral order is an unreasonable volte-face and by your admission, against the interests of the state and its people.
“I humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so-called order in the larger public interest. I appeal to your conscience and good sense, on the behalf of the people of West Bengal,” Miss Banerjee said in her letter to PM Modi.
She also said, “The West Bengal government cannot release, and is not releasing its chief secretary at this critical hour, based on our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation under applicable laws, remains operational and valid.”
The Centre, in a surprise move, had on 28 May night sought Mr Bandyopadhyay’s services and asked the state government to immediately release the top bureaucrat.
Referring to the Centre’s 24 May order granting extension to Mr Bandyopadhyay for another three months after his scheduled retirement on Monday, Miss Banerjee said, “I presume that the said order of granting extension as chief secretary, issued after mutual written consultations and based on the reasons deliberated upon during such consultations under due process, stands and ought to stand in any case.
“In this regard, I seek your kind confirmation in public interest and in the larger interests of the people of the state of West Bengal in these difficult times.”
She also mentioned in her letter that the “all-India services and the laws, including the rules framed for it, have federal cooperation as the cornerstone of its legal architecture”.
Banerjee said the all-India services have aimed to “protect and give greater cohesion to the federal foundations” of the Constitution.
“With unilateral and non-consultative orders being issued, the federal system is gravely endangered and severely undermined. If a chief secretary of a state can be asked to be relieved like this, how can the lower bureaucracy take, obey and implement orders in their letter or spirit from the chief minister, other ministers and officers?”
The Centre it is understood will initiate disciplinary action against Mr Bandyopadhyay for failing to report to the department of personnel, public grievances and pensions (DoPT) in New Delhi as ordered, people familiar with the development said on Monday. The central government transferred Mr Bandopadhyay to DoPT on Friday, ordering the top civil servant to report by 10 am on Monday, after a row broke out over West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee skipping a meeting convened by the PM during his visit to the state to review the impact of Cyclone Yaas.