Bengal chief secretary retires, Mamata appoints him chief advisor amid Centre-state row

By Express News Service
KOLKATA: Amid the ongoing tussle between the Centre and Bengal government over the chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay’s transfer to Delhi, the top bureaucrat on Monday retired and was appointed the chief advisor to CM Mamata Banerjee.

Bandopandhyay will take on the new role from June 1 for a period of three years. 

State Home Secretary HK Dwivedi has been appointed as the new chief secretary and additional chief secretary BP Gopalika has taken over as the new home secretary.

“State chief secretary Alapan Banerjee has retired as his service ended today. He didn’t ask for his extension. But the state government has decided to use his vast experience in bureaucracy for the betterment of the state. He has now been appointed as chief minister’s chief advisor so that the government can get his service in handling Covid-19 pandemic and post cyclone Yaas relief operations,” said CM Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat.

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Mamata on Monday wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi describing the Centre’s decision to transfer Bandopadhyay to Delhi was unilateral, unprecedented and unconstitutional. Alapan was asked to report to the Department of Personnel and Training on May 31, the day of his superannuation

“The government of Bengal cannot release, and it is not releasing, its Chief Secretary at this critical hour, on the basis of our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation in accordance with applicable laws, remains operational and valid,” Mamata wrote in the letter hours before announcing Bandopadhyay’s new role.

Earlier, the state government had sought a nod from the Centre for Bandopadhyay’s three-month extension which was approved.

Sources in the state secretariat said though the state government sought the bureaucrat’s extension as the chief secretary and the Centre gave a nod, Bengal government decided to scrap the idea after the central government’s letter asking Bandopadhyay to report to Delhi.

“The CM decided to allow the chief secretary to retire and appoint him as her chief advisor,” an official said.

The Bengal CM came down heavily on PM Modi and said Bandopadhyay’s transfer order reflected BJP’s political vendetta. “The Centre wrote directly wrote to the chief secretary bypassing the state government. This is unlawful. If the Centre wants a bureaucrat’s service in central government, the state government, under which he or she is working, has to be consulted. Instead of giving importance to Centre-State federalism structure, you added injury to it. I never saw such a ruthless Prime Minister,’’ Mamata lashed out.