Alapan Bandyopadhyay, scheduled to retire on May 31st as the chief secretary of the West Bengal government, opted for retirement yesterday.
But he was served a show-cause notice on his ‘absence’ in the review meeting convened by the Prime Minister at Kalaikunda last Friday, and has been asked to give his reply within three days. The notice is served under the Disaster Management Act. He has also been directed by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to appear before it today.
While it appears that the Centre is about to take disciplinary action against Bandyopadhyay, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has appointed the IAS officer as her new chief advisor to CM. It of course denotes his proximity to Mamata Banerjee, and also speaks of his efficiency.
Bandyopadhyay was a brilliant student and reportedly he stood third in Higher Secondary Examination. But unlike the others of his time, he did not pursue study in science. He studied Political Science in Kolkata’s prestigious Presidency College and then did his masters from the University of Calcutta. He then joined Anandabazar Patrika as a reporter but had in his mind the job of an IAS as his coveted career. He sat for the civil service exams while doing journalism, and cleared those.
This 1987-cadre IAS officer was a blue-eyed boy of the then Left Front government from the beginning of his career. From the beginning, he got plum postings. He served as district magistrates of Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas, all of which are around Kolkata and are very important ones administratively. He had also served as Kolkata municipal commissioner. After the TMC came to power, he gradually became a favourite of Mamata Banerjee too. She appointed him as interim state election commissioner
Banerjee headed several departments starting from transport and followed by MSME, commerce and industry, information and culture. Before becoming Chief Secretary he was serving as Home Secretary. His service term was supposed to expire on May 31. But the state government had requested the Centre for extension of Bandyopadhyay’s tenure by three months, citing the crucial role played by him during the management of Cyclone Yaas and the coronavirus pandemic in the state. The Centre agreed to the West Bengal government’s demand.
But things changed after Bandyopadhyay avoided the review meeting called by the PM. He went to meet the PM along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee but came out after submitting the papers containing the assessment of damages. Reportedly, the Prime Minister wanted to hear from him the details of it. The officers of PMO contacted him, but he expressed his inability to attend the meeting. Just a day later, he was asked to report DOPT in Delhi on May 31, which has now been pushed to June 1.
The future course of action by the centre will depend on the Bandyopadhya’s response to the show-cause notice. According to sources, his case for full pension would be taken only after the matter is solved.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)
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