Recalling CS will affect COVID fight, cyclone relief in Bengal: TMC

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Kolkata, May 31 (PTI) The Trinamool Congress on Monday said that the Centre's order to recall West Bengal Chief Secretary 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.

Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, eloquently and comprehensively pointed out the grounds on which the chief secretary should be allowed to continue his work in the state.

'At a time when West Bengal is faced with pincer attacks of cyclone devastation and COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre should not recall the official who is at the helm of the contingency measures. Neither was the state's views sought nor was it informed before the Centre recalled CS,' Roy told PTI.

Earlier in the day, he tweeted: 'In absence of any proposal from Centre for 'concurrence' of the State under Rule 6 (1) of IAS Cadre Rules,1954, the unilateral order for placement of Chief Secretary of Bengal in Central Service is arbitrary, vexatious and ex facie illegal. This requires to be deprecated, cancelled.' The Centre had on May 28 directed Bandopadhyay to report to the Department of Personnel and Training in Delhi on Monday. It had earlier approved the state government's request to give a three-month extension of service to the IAS officer due to the COVID and cyclone situation in West Bengal.

Senior TMC leader and minister Chandrima Bhattacharya told reporters that it defies logic why the Centre would recall the chief secretary only five days after giving him a service extension to serve in West Bengal.

She claimed that even though Bandopadhyay had accompanied the chief minister to the prime minister's meeting at Kalaikunda in Paschim Medinipur district on May 28 and both left after taking his consent, a Union minister alleged that the chief secretary had walked out of the meeting which is 'totally false'.

The chief minister had not attended the cyclone review meeting with the prime minister on that day as BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari, who had defeated her in Nandigram during the recent assembly elections, was also present.

'The chief secretary was with the CM and he is supposed to report to her. Both the CM and the CS were made to wait for half an hour to meet the PM. Is that fair?' Bhattacharya said.

'After being forced to walk out of West Bengal by the people of the state in the recent assembly elections, some central leaders of the BJP are now using the walk-out phrase without understanding its actual meaning,' she added.

To a question whether Bandopadhyay would continue to work as the chief secretary for three more months as his tenure was extended earlier, Bhattacharya said, 'The chief minister has written the letter. We hope the Centre will withdraw its last missive.' BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu declined to comment on an issue between the state and the Centre but hoped it is resolved soon. PTI SUS ACD ACD

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