New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry has served a show-cause notice to the former chief secretary of West Bengal, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment up to two years.
The former Chief Secretary has been asked to reply within three days to the notice.
In a nine-point rejoinder, the central government sources strongly rebutted Mamata Banerjee’s claims that she was ‘waiting for the Prime Minister on May 28 when Mr Modi had flown to West Bengal to review the situation arising out of cyclone Yaas.
The Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act says – anyone refusing to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government or the State Government or the National Executive Committee or the State Executive Committee or the District Authority under this Act, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both. And if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
“PM (Narendra Modi) landed at Kalaikunda at 1.59 pm. Mamata Banerjee landed at Kalaikunda after the PM at 2.10 pm. It is clear that the PM was kept waiting for the Chief Minister as he landed much before her. This was also confirmed by a TMC MP who tweeted that there was no big deal in the PM being kept waiting,” said government sources.
This is in reference to a tweet from Trinamool MP, Mahua Moitra, who wrote on May 28: “So much fuss over an alleged 30 min wait? Indians waiting 7 years for ₹15 lakhs
Waiting hours at ATM queues. Waiting months for vaccines due . Thoda aap bhi wait kar lijiye kabhi kabhi…” A home ministry source said that hours before the Chief Minister announced the controversial Chief Secretary’s retirement on Monday, Bandyopadhyay was served the notice for refusing to comply with lawful direction of the central government in violation of Section 51-B of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Mamata has given “entirely false statements” and she “boycotted” a meeting with the Prime Minister.
The Chief Minister has said she had another scheduled meeting and that she had asked the PM’s permission before leaving. PM Modi never gave permission to Mamata Banerjee to leave the review meeting as she claims, sources said in Delhi.
To her claim about being informed belatedly about the Prime Minister’s schedule, the sources commented that a meeting to assess cyclone damage could hardly be finalised “before the cyclone comes”.
Ms Banerjee’s allegation that she was forced to wait for the PM was also rejected by government sources.
On Ms Banerjee saying she had to wait for 20 minutes and her chopper had to hover because the PM’s chopper was to land, the sources said she should have come in advance, “as everyone does when the PM is supposed to land at any airport”.
After her chopper landed at the air base, the Chief Minister reached the building where the meeting was to take place, around 500 metres away. “After meeting the PM, she departed for her next journey at 2.35 pm. So in effect, she travelled 500 metres to and fro, met the PM and departed in 25 minutes. 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, government sources said.
The sources also said Mamata Banerjee had agreed to attend the PM’s review but had changed her mind after learning that her former aide-turned-BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari, who is the state’s Leader of Opposition, would be in the meeting.
Trinamool’s landslide victory in assembly polls has been marred by her defeat to Mr Adhikari in Nandigram.
“Mamata Banerjee chose to boycott the review meeting because the Leader of Opposition of WB was present. No issue was created by the government on this, because what mattered was Cyclone relief activities”.
It was suggested to her that the PM will meet her immediately after the review meeting as that was the reason for which he traveled to West Bengal. “Sensing that she may have to wait till the review meeting gets over, she chose to prevent other officers too from attending the meeting and in effect cancelled the review meeting scheduled by the Prime Minister,” the sources alleged.
The Centre defended its moves against Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who was ordered to report to Delhi after the meeting controversy.
“The order is perfectly constitutional since the 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 the PM and no officer of the West Bengal government attended the PM’s review meeting,” sources said.
In fact, state Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also said that Mamata decided to boycott PM’s cyclone-review meet ‘the previous night’ itself after she came to know that Adhikari will attend the meet. ,