Updated: June 2, 2021 7:09:19 am
Alapan Bandyopadhyay, now in the eye of the political storm between the Centre and West Bengal government, is seen by his colleagues as a highly educated, competent, intelligent and experienced IAS officer.
Bandyopadhyay, a 1987-batch officer, was supposed to retire from service on May 31. On May 24, the Centre acceded to the state government’s request for an extension of his tenure by three months — the state cited the important role the Chief Secretary was playing in the management of the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic and Cyclone Yaas.
On May 28, however, the Centre suddenly summoned the officer to New Delhi, hours after he had skipped — along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — a review meeting on the cyclone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Banerjee refused to release Bandyopadhyay, and described the Centre’s demand as “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. On May 31, the day Bandyopadhyay was supposed to report to Delhi, the Centre sent a second letter; however, the Chief Secretary stayed put in Kolkata, and retired from service without accepting the extension granted to him.
Banerjee has appointed Bandyopadhyay to the new post of Chief Advisor to the Chief Minister for a period of three years.
Bandyopadhyay, who was born in West Burdwan district, studied at Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission Residential School, and ranked third in the state in his Madhyamik (Class 10) exam in 1976. He went on to graduate in political science from Kolkata’s prestigious Presidency College, and also obtained a Master’s degree.
Before joining service, Bandyopadhyay worked as a journalist with Anandabazar Patrika. As an IAS officer, he served as District Magistrate of South and North 24-Parganas and Howrah, and also as Commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. After Mamata Banerjee became Chief Minister, Bandyopadhyay served as Secretary of Transport, Industry and Commerce, Municipal and Urban Development, Information and Culture, and Home. He built a reputation for being a very competent draftsman and an excellent negotiator who knew how to get things done.
Over the past year, as Banerjee faced a formidable re-election challenge from the BJP, Bandyopadhyay helmed her government’s response to allegations of corruption in the distribution of post-Amphan cyclone relief, and then the Covid-19 pandemic and Cyclone Yaas.
As Chief Secretary, he implemented the administrative aspects of the government’s ‘Duare Sarkar’ and ‘Swasthya Saathi’ schemes, which are believed to have played an important role in the Trinamool Congress’s massive election victory.
Bandyopadhyay lost his younger brother, senior journalist Anjan Bandyopadhyay, to Covid-19 on May 16. His wife, Sonali Chakraborty, is Vice-Chancellor of Kolkata University.
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