Kolkata: In a surprise development on Monday, West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who was given an extension of three months, opted for his normal superannuation scheduled on May 31, apparently putting an end to the Centre-state tussle over his Central deputation.
Alleging that the decision for Central deputation was a fallout of the Centre's vendetta politics, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has appointed Bandyopadhyay as the Chief Political Advisor to the CM.
Bandyopadhyay's decision to opt for normal retirement came after the Centre sent a second letter to him and the state government, asking the senior officer to report to North Block on Tuesday, clearly indicating that the Centre will not withdraw from its stance.
The communication from the Centre came as a response to a letter shot off by Banerjee, in which she urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the "letter of recall" and allow Bandyopadhyay to continue working as the Chief Secretary of West Bengal for the next three months.
Earlier on May 28, the Centre had written to Bandyopadhyay, asking him to report to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) at 10 am on May 31. It also asked the state government to give him the necessary clearance for this purpose.
Unwilling to release the Chief Secretary, Banerjee wrote to the Prime Minister on Monday, saying, "I humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so-called order in larger public interest.
The government of West Bengal cannot release, and is not releasing, the Chief Secretary at this critical hour, on the basis of our understanding that the earlier order of extension, issued after lawful consultation in accordance with applicable laws, remains operational and valid."
Speaking to the media, the Chief Minister said, "I am sorry to say that the purpose of service of the extension was in public interest and they (the central government) agreed to give extension. They have recalled him, but the state government doesn't even know the reason. Naturally, the state government didn't agree because the purpose behind giving him extension still persists.
"Perhaps the Central government is not aware that when I received the letter, Bandyopadhyay has been superannuated from his service on the afternoon of May 31, as his normal date of retirement is May 31. Hence his services are no longer available to join the Central government tomorrow, as mentioned in today's order."
Banerjee then announced that Bandyopadhyay has been appointed as the Chief Advisor to the Chief Minister and he will start working from Tuesday onwards with a salary commensurate with his age, seniority and designation.
"This will be sanctioned by the finance department," she said.
Meanwhile, Hare Krishna Diwedi, presently working as the Home Secretary, will handle the responsibilities of the Chief Secretary, while B. Gopalika, who is presently working as the Additional Chief Secretary, will become the new Home Secretary of the state.
Terming the incident to be a one-off case in the country's 74 years of cooperative federalism, the Chief Minister alleged that the BJP government is destroying the federal structure of the state.
"I have not seen such a heartless and unkind Prime Minister and Home Minister in all my life. You cannot recall the top man in the state bureaucracy in this manner. This is not only shameful, but it also shows their vindictive attitude. They will destroy the morale of the bureaucrats in the country.
"I appeal to all the non-BJP Chief Ministers and bureaucrats of the country to come forward and protest against this unjust move," she said.