West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee defied protocol in a review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the post-cyclonic situation in the state and is misleading on the controversy surrounding chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, said Government of India (GoI) sources on Tuesday.
After the Prime Minister landed at Kalaikunda last week, Banerjee left for Digha after meeting him briefly and did not attend the review meeting over the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas. Mamata maintains she took the Prime Minister’s permission before leaving but the GoI sources say that the PM Modi had not given permission to Banerjee to leave the meeting.
“She left before the PM left, which is clearly contrary to accepted practices and protocol. It is clear that Mamata Banerjee’s statement of being made to wait is entirely false and that she made the PM wait,” a source said.
The sources also said that the Chief Minister had agreed to attend the meeting, but changed her mind after coming to know that the Leader of Opposition (LoP) Suvendu Adhikari was going to be part of the meeting, which she also mentions in her letter.
Slamming her claims of being told to wait for 20 minutes before the Prime Minister, the government sources said that she was expected to come in advance, as everyone does when PM is supposed to land at any airport.
The sources said the Prime Minister landed at Kalaikunda much before her. They said both Odisha and West Bengal were informed about the Prime Minister’s programme at a similar time and Odisha managed the programme very well, which was before his visit to Bengal.
The sources also said that the Bengal CM had chosen to prevent other officers too from attending the meeting and in effect cancelled the review meeting scheduled by the Prime Minister, as she sensed that she had to wait till the meeting was over.
“Mamata Banerjee chose to boycott the review meeting because the LOP of West Bengal was present. No issue was created by GoI on this, because what mattered was cyclone relief activities. It was suggested to her that PM will meet her immediately after the review meeting as that was the reason for which he traveled to the state,” the sources said.
Referring to Banerjee’s protests following the recall of Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, describing the order as ‘unprecedented and unconstitutional, the sources said that the order is perfectly constitutional since Chief Secretary is an All India Services officer. “He chose to ignore his constitutional duties, as a result of which no presentation was given to PM and no officer of West Bengal government attended the PM’s review meeting,” they said.
They also stressed that All India officers are not expected to be part of politics and that Banerjee knows all this and his retirement is the last bid to save him.
“Chief Secretary’s retirement shows that Mamata Banerjee is on the back foot. She knows that facts of the matter are against the Chief Secretary and his behaviour was such that it will invite strict disciplinary action as he is an All India Services Officer and it was his duty to ensure that the review meeting takes place as scheduled,” the sources said.
“Mamata Banerjee has done a big U turn in a matter of hours. From requesting PM to confirm the extension of Chief Secretary for three months, to retiring him now,” they further said. The sources also said that the Leader of Opposition Adhikari was also an elected representative of the affected area and there have been numerous meetings in the past in non-BJP ruled states where representatives of other parties have been present.
Banerjee had said yesterday that Bandyopadhyay has retired from service on May 31 and will not join in Delhi and has been made Chief Advisor. The central government had on Friday last issued an order to recall Bandyopadhyay. The order said that placement of his services with the government has been approved. The state government was asked to relieve the officer with immediate effect and he was directed to report to North Block by May 31.
The development took place after Banerjee along with the state chief secretary skipped the review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday aftermath of Cyclone Yaas.
Banerjee was supposed to attained the meeting. However, she along with the state chief secretary arrived late by 30 minutes and handed him over reports of damage caused by the impact of Cyclone Yaas. Following this, she left for her “pre-scheduled” meeting at Digha.
(With ANI Inputs)