Former Bengal chief secretary's conduct could lead to anarchy, make severe dent to IAS: Govt sources

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New Delhi, Jun 2 (PTI) Taking strong exception to former West Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay skipping a meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, government sources on Wednesday said his conduct has made a severe dent to IAS and it could lead to anarchy.

They questioned Bandyopadhyay's action on May 28 for keeping Modi waiting for him and leaving the meeting venue without making a presentation to the prime minister.

'Mind you, the review meeting was held by no less than the prime minister himself who had come for the meeting after making an aerial survey of cyclone YAAS affected areas,' a source said.

Modi had visited West Bengal to make an on-spot assessment on the extent of damage and loss due to the cyclone.

The sources asked what if central government officers in various departments concerned including PSUs and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) refuse to attend meetings called by the chief secretary on a whole lot of situations, including calamities? 'Would that not amount to institutional breakdown in a federal structure?' the source asked.

According to the sources, India now has a three-tier structure -- Centre, state and Panchayti Raj.

What if a district magistrate or other officers in a district or a block where rival party heads zila parishad or panchayat refuses to coordinate with the chief secretary or other designated officers, they asked.

Would that not lead to anarchy? Bandyopadhyay's conduct on May 28 has made a severe dent to IAS, the supposed 'steel frame' of India as devised by Sardar Patel, the sources said.

They said in the Indian federal structure, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) acts as a bridge between the Centre and the states on issues relating to governance and coordination.

The service was built in such a way that they are expected to take a more rational and judicious view on a given subject in the best interest of the state and the nation.

The point here is what Bandyopadhyay, a 1987 batch IAS officer, in his position of chief secretary of the state was expected to do – was his conduct and behaviour appropriate for the position he held, the sources asked.

As the senior-most civil servant of the state, how should he have behaved? Did he take a rational and judicious view and decision on the spot or was he completely left to the whims of the chief minister so that his post-retiral could be handsomely rewarding, they questioned.

These questions are significant because a chief secretary can't be working like a personal staff of the chief minister, no matter howsoever senior, an advisor or principal secretary of a chief minister, the sources said.

He is chief secretary to the state, not to the chief minister, they said.

Giving details, the sources said after the landfall of the cyclonic storm Yaas, the prime minister had taken a meeting with central ministries and agencies on May 27 for assessment of damages caused and for facilitating the states in early restoration measures.

Further, a visit of the prime minister was scheduled to West Bengal on 28 May for an on-ground assessment, they said.

The chief secretary was duly informed of it and the prime minister chairing a review meeting at Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Midnapore district on the same day, the sources said.

Bandyopadhyay as chief secretary of the West Bengal government was supposed to do the briefing to the prime minister and do the follow up.

'But when the prime minister arrived at the briefing room, Bandyopadhyay was not present there,' the source said.

After he was contacted by an official from the prime minister's delegation, he came inside the meeting room but is said to have left within two minutes, without attending the review meeting, they said.

Bandyopadhyay has been served with a show cause notice by the Union home ministry for abstaining from the meeting. He has been asked to reply in writing within three days in response to the ministry's notice issued on Monday. PTI AKV SKL ZMN