KOLKATA: Former state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay wrote to the Union home ministry on Thursday, denying he had “abstained” from PM Narendra Modi’s May 28 cyclone review meeting in Kalaikunda. Bandyopadhyay, now CM Mamata Banerjee’s chief adviser, has said he attended the meeting and then left at Banerjee’s instructions — to whom he “reports” — to conduct and coordinate post-cyclone review meetings in East Midnapore.
State chief secretary H K Dwivedi wrote a separate letter to the Centre’s department of personnel and training on Thursday, stating that Bandyopadhyay had already retired from service on Monday before the second central government letter — instructing him to report to Delhi’s North Block — reached the state. He had chosen not to accept the three-month extension given to him on May 24 before getting this second letter, Dwivedi’s letter said. “Both replies have been sent,” a senior state government officer confirmed.
The Union home ministry sent Bandyopadhyay a notice on Monday, asking him to explain why action should not be taken against him under the Disaster Management Act (2005) for not attending the PM’s review meet on May 28. The state government has insisted that both the CM and the former state chief secretary had a brief interaction with Modi and then left after seeking his permission, a point denied by the Centre.
The Bengal CM also wrote a five-page letter to the PM on Monday and said it would be unfortunate if the Centre’s “vindictive and illegal” moves against Bandyopadhyay were part of its “anti-Bengal political vendetta after being rejected by Bengal’s voters in the assembly polls”.
Banerjee iterated on Wednesday that Bandyopadhyay enjoyed the Bengal government’s “full support… on whatever was going on with him”.
The Centre’s notice to Bandyopadhyay on Monday said the “PM and other members of his entourage” waited for 15 minutes for state officers. But the Bengal CM and the former chief secretary arrived when called and left “immediately”. By abstaining from a meeting convened by the Modi, also the National Disaster Management Authority chairperson, Bandyopadhyay “refused to comply with the lawful direction of the central government” and had violated sections of the disaster law, the centre’s notice to Bandyopadhyay said.
Senior officers in Bengal, however, countered this, saying Yaas had not been declared a “disaster” at that time and — even according to the centre’s notice — Bandyopadhyay did not skip the PM’s review meeting. Besides, several persons who were not part of the NDMA were also invited to the meeting, they added.