'Didn't Abstain From PM Meet': Bengal Bureaucrat To Centre's Notice

Centre sent Alapan Bandyopadhyay a show-cause notice asking him to explain his absence from PM meet

New Delhi:

The Bengal bureaucrat at the heart of the latest clash between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly replied to the Centre’s notice accusing him of skipping the PM’s meeting last week. Former Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay is believed to have written to the Centre that he did not “abstain” from PM Modi’s Cyclone Yaas meeting and that he was there “till the Chief Minister was there”.

He has said “as per the directive of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee”, he left the meeting for a review of the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas in Digha town, according to sources quoted by Press Trust of India.

For allegedly missing PM Modi’s meet along with Mamata Banerjee last Friday, Mr Bandyopadhyay was transferred to the Centre just a day before his retirement.

Mamata Banerjee refused to release him and Mr Bandyopadhyay chose to retire instead of reporting to Delhi, after which he was appointed Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister.

Earlier this week, the Centre sent him a show-cause notice asking him to explain his absence from PM Modi’s meeting.

Mamata Banerjee and her team had left after a brief interaction with the Prime Minister at the air base where he had landed after an aerial review. The Chief Minister’s refusal to stay and attend the meeting was partly linked to the presence of her former aide-turned-BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari at the meeting as Leader of Opposition.

She has since asserted she had other scheduled meetings and had left only with the Prime Minister’s permission.

The show cause notice to Mr Bandyopadhyay accused him of making PM Modi and other members of his entourage wait for nearly 15 minutes.

“In view of the absence, the Chief Secretary (Mr Bandyopadhay) was called by an official as to whether they wanted to participate in the review meeting or not. Thereafter, Chief Secretary arrived along with Chief Minister of West Bengal inside the meeting room and left thereafter immediately,” the Centre said.

OnTuesday, government sources defended its actions, saying the Chief Secretary, as an All India Services officer, “chose to ignore his constitutional duties”.

Government sources said his retirement showed that Mamata Banerjee was on the backfoot. “She knows that facts of the matter are against the Chief Secretary and his behaviour was such that it will invite strict disciplinary action… All India officers are not expected to be part of politics. Mamata knows all this and his retirement is a last bid to save him,” they said.