File photo of Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay | Photo: ANI
File photo of former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay | ANI
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Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government will proceed “legally” in the inquiry process into the “misconduct” case against Alapan Bandyopadhyay, a now-retired IAS officer who was in the middle of a row between the Modi government and the state government a few months ago.

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar told ThePrint that the government will wait and watch initially, and proceed “legally”.

“A judicial process has begun. We will see how things work, but chances of damaging Alapan Bandyopadhyay are very slim,” said Sircar, who had a four-decade career as an IAS officer himself and retired as the chief executive of Prasar Bharati. He has been helping and advising CM Banerjee on this case since the beginning, according to sources.

Earlier this week, the Modi government appointed an inquiry officer to probe into the “misconduct” of Bandyopadhyay.

In May, Bandyopadhyay faced central government action after he, along with the Bengal CM, was not present to receive PM Modi at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Midnapore, and then left a review meeting, led by the latter to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas, early. The CM left the meeting after a brief discussion with the PM, and the chief secretary is believed to have followed her.

Officials in the state government say there was no disciplinary lapse in the episode. According to a senior official at Nabanna, CM Mamata Banerjee and the chief secretary had informed the PMO about another administrative meeting that coincided with the PM’s arrival. A state minister was present to receive the PM n compliance with protocol, the official added. And the CM said at a press conference later that she had sought the PM’s permission before leaving the meeting.

However, hours after a row erupted over the matter, Bandyopadhyay was directed to report to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in the national capital. However, he chose not to comply with the central directive and retired on 31 May, following which the Centre initiated disciplinary action against him. Immediately after his retirement, CM Banerjee appointed him as the principal advisor to her government.

On 13 October, the Modi government appointed an inquiry officer to probe the incident, scan through the relevant documents and take statements from the related and relevant officials, a senior official of the state government told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.

The development was first announced by Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of Opposition in Bengal’s legislative assembly and a senior BJP leader.

Adhikari, who is known to be close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, tweeted, “Enquiry Officer has been appointed in major misconduct disciplinary enquiry against former CS Alapan Bandopadhyay.”

ThePrint reached Bandopadhyay via text and WhatsApp messages for comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.


Also read: Modi-Mamata battle over Bengal chief secy is another proof civil services needs reforms


‘They will not let the issue die’

A second senior state government official noted that the incident happened five months ago but the Centre has appointed an inquiry officer only now.

“This means there is no going back on the part of the central side. They will not let this issue die. They will investigate and serve him a charge sheet. This is how the process ends, when a government initiates disciplinary action against a senior officer,” the official said.

“He has retired, but the proceedings and the probable charge sheet may affect his post-retirement benefits and claims,” the official added.

Earlier, the Modi government had filed a caveat in the Central Administrative Tribunal and the Calcutta High Court. “We will approach this issue legally, the government is with Alapan Bandopadhyay,” said a second senior official in Bengal government’s judicial department.

Nisith Pramanik, Minister of State for Home Affairs, told ThePrint that “disciplinary actions should be initiated”. “The issue is related to the PM of the country,” he said.

This report has been updated with details from state government officials about PM Modi’s reception after he arrived in Bengal this May, and the ensuing meeting on Cyclone Yaas


Also read: Alapan Bandyopadhyay — Not just an IAS officer, but a trouble-shooter Mamata can’t do without


 

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