Bandopadhyay retired on Monday and was immediately appointed the chief advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She had refused to release him after the Department of Personnel and Training, which comes under the central government, on Friday directed Bandopadhyay to report to its office at North Block in Delhi by 10 am on Monday.
After this, the Centre shot off another letter asking Bandopadhyay to comply with the May 28 order and report by Tuesday. A show-cause notice was sent to Bandopadhyay late on Monday evening under the Disaster Management Act, asking him to explain his absence from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting on Cyclone Yaas.
The Trinamool Congress leadership said the notice to the former chief secretary despite him retiring from service was an “act of vengeance”.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy questioned why the Centre was summoning West Bengal’s top bureaucrat to Delhi after giving him a three-month extension. “The Centre seems to be guided by the logic that might is always right,” he told The Hindu. “This development indicates an ulterior motive on its part to not allow the West Bengal government to function properly during a pandemic and post a natural disaster.”
Senior TMC leader and state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya also said there was no logic to recall Bandopadhyay after extending his term by three months on May 24, The Indian Express reported.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari demanded strict action against Bandyopadhyay and accused Banerjee of destroying India’s federal structure. “Theatre of the absurd is playing out in West Bengal,” he tweeted. “Is it really becoming of a chief secretary to skip the prime minister’s meet organised to help the people in duress due to Cyclone Yaas? No. It is not.”
Former MP and TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh hit back at Adhikari, saying he has no right to raise questions on Bandopadhyay’s conduct.
While the order to recall Bandopadhay did not mention the reason for the move, it came hours after he and Banerjee skipped a review meeting on Cyclone Yaas with the prime minister on May 28. The Centre alleged that Banerjee kept Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar waiting for half an hour.
Banerjee has refuted the claims, saying she handed over a detailed report on the cyclone to the prime minister and after seeking his permission thrice, she left for Digha with Bandopadhay to assess the damage caused by the cyclone.
On Tuesday, Dhankar said “ego prevailed over public service” as Banerjee walked out of the cyclone meeting. Terming the governor’s comment “unfortunate”, the Trinamool Congress said that the chief minister was involved in public service 24/7 and all her actions are prompted by her concern for the interests of the state.
Senior TMC leader and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha called the governor the “real leader of the Opposition”.