West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday came out in support of former chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, and said that he is an “honest” and “competent” officer.
Banerjee, who was addressing a press conference, said that the former chief secretary was “totally authorised” to take action as per his convenience.
“Alapan Bandyopadhyay is an honest officer and competent person. He is totally authorised to take action as per his convenience and our govt will support him. Central Govt is victimising an officer,” Mamata said.
The comments by the chief minister came just two days after the Centre inititated “major penalty proceedings” against Bandyopadhyay, amid a tug of war between the Union government and the Mamata Banerjee dispensation over him, which may deprive him of post-retirement benefits, partially or fully.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has sent Bandyopadhyay, who retired on May 31 and is now the chief advisor to the CM, a “memorandum” mentioning the charges giving him 30 days to reply.
Bandopadhyay was set to retire on May 31, but the state had recently sought and received permission for extension of his tenure by three months as he played a crucial role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was, however, handed over a transfer directive by the DoPT, shortly after a row broke out over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post-cyclone review meeting, which the CM and the state chief secretary did not attend.
The bureaucrat, instead of reporting to Delhi, chose to retire amid the Centre-state tussle. He was subsequently appointed as the CM’s chief adviser.
The DoPT had sent him a reminder after he failed to report in response to its May 28 order.
The Union Home Ministry has also slapped a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment for up to two years for abstaining from the meeting presided over by the PM.
The notice said Bandyopadhyay “acted in a manner tantamount to refusing to comply with lawful directions of the central government”. Bandyopadhyay had responded to the Home Ministry’s notice.