Central government sources said on Wednesday that former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s conduct has made a “severe dent” to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the “steel frame of India” as devised by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.
Giving a reference to the foundation of the IAS and other all-India services, they asked if Bandyopadhyay, the then topmost bureaucrat of West Bengal, did what he was expected to do during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on May 28 to review the extent of damage and loss due to Cyclone Yaas.
Also Read | Mamata and her battle against Union government over bureaucrats
The ongoing controversy over the now retired 1987-batch IAS officer began on May 28 when he is said to have kept Prime Minister Modi waiting, and then left the meeting venue without making a presentation to the PM. “He arrived late at the venue accompanying chief minister Mamata Banerjee and left in a haste accompanying her,” sources said, adding that questions over his conduct are significant as a chief secretary “can’t be working like a personal staff” of the chief minister.
“Even if he was really occupied and couldn’t have avoided his pre-scheduled engagements, why didn’t he deputise a senior officer to attend the meeting on his behalf?” they asked.
Also Read | Mamata Banerjee urges PM Modi to cancel bureaucrat’s Central deputation
“What would’ve happened if central government officers refused to attend meetings called by the chief secretary? Wouldn’t that amount to institutional breakdown?” the sources questioned further.
Citing India’s three-tier structure of centre, state and panchayati raj, sources said there would be “anarchy” if district magistrates or other officers in a district or block where a rival party is heading the district council or the panchayat refuse to coordinate with the chief secretary or other designated officers.
Also Read | Centre stuns Mamata Banerjee, transfers top Bengal official to Delhi after row
Just hours after the May 28 episode, the Centre’s department of personnel and training (DoPT) transferred Bandyopadhyay to Delhi, asking him to report to duty at 10am on May 31. However, the West Bengal government refused to relieve him. Bandyopadhyay retired as chief secretary on May 31 and was appointed by CM Mamata Banerjee as her special advisor. Bandyopadhyay, who was scheduled to retire on this date but was on a three-month extension, was issued a show-cause notice for not reporting to duty as directed by the DoPT.