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In a sudden turn of events, West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay retired on Monday afternoon only to be appointed as the Chief Advisor of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. However, according to sources in the government, a chargesheet will be issued and action will be taken against Bandopadhya despite his superannuation today.

As per the new order, Bandyopadhyay will take on the new role from June 1 for a period of three years. State Home Secretary HK Dwivedi was appointed as the new West Bengal Chief Secretary while state Additional Chief Secretary B P Gopalika took over as the new home secretary.

Announcing the changes, Banerjee said, “State Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has retired as his service ends today (May 31, 2021). He didn’t ask for his extension, so, considering his vast experience in bureaucracy we have asked for his service to help the government in handling COVID-19 pandemic and post Cyclone ‘Yaas’ relief operations.”

“I thank CS Alapan for his services. His work for WB has been par excellence…given his track record we are appointing him as the Chief Advisor to the CM for a period of 3 years,” she said.

An IAS officer of the 1987 batch, Alapan Bandyopadhyay was the additional chief secretary of micro, small and medium enterprises and textiles department before he was appointed in the home and information department in 2019. He is known as an excellent task master and therefore he was the ‘blue-eyed boy’ during the Left Front rule in Bengal. After Mamata came to power in 2011, he once again earned praise for his hard work.

On May 28, Alapan Bandopadhyay was recalled by the Centre on deputation reportedly for his absence in the Cyclone review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kalaikunda on May 28. Reacting to which, Banerjee wrote a letter to the prime minister on Monday, saying she was “shocked and stunned” by the “unilateral order” asking Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay to report to the Centre, and made it clear that the state government “is not releasing” him.

“The government of Bengal cannot release, and is not releasing, its 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,” Banerjee wrote. The Trinamool Congress on Monday said that the Centre’s order to recall Alapan Bandopadhyay will affect the fight against the raging COVID-19 pandemic and relief work after the devastation wreaked by cyclone Yaas in the state.

Alapan was due to retire on May 31, 2021 but he was given a three-month extension on request of the West Bengal government amid surge in COVID-19 cases and considering his vast experience in managing relief operations during natural calamity. However, amid a recall order, Alapan decided to discontinue his extension and expressed his desire to retire. Following his decision, she was made Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Adviser on Monday.

On May 10, 2021, West Bengal government asked for Alapan’s extension from the Centre and on May 24 they granted his extension. Surprisingly, on May 28, he was recalled on central deputation reportedly after he gave a miss to PM Modi’s review meeting at Kalaikunda in West Midnapore on May 28. Mamata Banerjee sought explanation from the Centre to clarify the reason behind Alapan’s recall letter which was issued just four days after giving him the extension for three months by the Centre itself.

“Respected sir, I therefore humbly request you to withdraw, recall, reconsider your decision and rescind the latest so called in larger public interest because we cannot release, and it not releasing, the State 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,” Mamata’s letter to PM Modi reads.

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