Updated: June 2, 2021 6:02:31 pm
The recent tug-of-war over Alapan Bandyopadhyay who retired as the chief secretary on Monday was the latest flashpoint in an ongoing face-off between the Centre and the West Bengal government.
The confrontation between the Centre and the state has continued ever since the high-stakes battle during the Assembly polls which saw the Trinamool Congress return to power with an overwhelming majority. Though her party came out on top, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, lost her Nandigram seat to BJP leader and former ally Suvendu Adhikari.
Soon after the election results were announced, there were allegations of post-poll violence raging in the state, in which at least 14 people lost their lives. Adhikari alleged that his car had been attacked after the announcement of results.
The TMC supremo, at the time had accused the BJP of spreading “fake news” regarding the violence. “Many sporadic incidents were reported, all were not real. Many of them are fake. The BJP is showing old or fake videos,” she stated, while blaming the Election Commission for the worsening of law and order in the state.
The tiff between the Centre and the state was heightened when the CBI arrested TMC leaders, including two ministers in the West Bengal government, in connection with the five-year-old Narada sting operation case.
Following the arrest of Transport and Housing Minister Firhad Hakim, Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, MLA and former minister Madan Mitra and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, Banerjee sat on a dharna for over six hours demanding their unconditional release along with 2,000 TMC supporters.
The latest flashpoint in the series of conflicts appeared after Banerjee skipped a review meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Cyclone Yaas. TMC leaders accused the BJP of playing politics by inviting Adhikari to the meeting, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah called it an “unfortunate low.”
However, Banjeree along with Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had met Modi ahead of the said meeting and submitted two reports demanding Rs 10,000 crore each for the development of Digha and Sunderban.
Alapan Bandyopadhyay in the eye of political storm
Soon after Banerjee skipped the review meeting, the Centre, which had earlier given a three-month extension to Alapan Bandyopadhyay, asked the state government to relieve him immediately so that he can report to Delhi on May 28. However, on May 31, Banerjee announced that Bandyopadhyay had retired from service after declining the three-month extension given to him, and had been appointed Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister.
Banerjee had written to Modi to assert that her government would not release Bandyopadhyay for central deputation. In a press conference, the Chief Minister slammed Modi and Shah for their alleged vendetta politics and deemed the order “illegal”.
“The unilateral ‘order’ comes without any prior consultation whatsoever with the Government of West Bengal, without any volition/option of the officer, without meeting any of the pre-conditions of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954, and other applicable laws under reference,” she stated.
As the row deepens, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a show-cause notice to Bandyopadhyay for reporting 15 minutes late to the Prime Minister’s cyclone review meeting on May 28.
Mamata hits out at Centre’s policies
Banerjee had earlier alleged “discrimination” by the Centre in the distribution of funds to the states for relief work after cyclone Yaas.
“The Centre is providing more than Rs 600 crore each to Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and only Rs 400 crore to Bengal to fight cyclone Yaas,” she had asserted in a press conference after a review meeting with Shah.
In April, Banerjee had dismissed Centre’s policy on Covid vaccines as “hollow”. In a letter to Modi, she said there was “Covid vaccine shortage” in her state and criticised the Centre’s move to introduce vaccines in the open market.
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