New Delhi: A battery of former IAS officers has flayed the conduct of former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
Writing on the row, Dr C V Ananda Bose, a former Kerala Chief Secretary, says, “Alapan Bandyopadhyay, placed himself in the dock. He has realised at a heavy price that the civil service cannot hunt with the hound and run with the hare”.
Writing for ‘New Indian Express’, he further says, “A noteworthy aspect is that resignation from service or retirement does not absolve an All India Service officer of his responsibility under the conduct rules. Disciplinary action can be taken against him during the four years following his retirement”.
Arguments have been built up about what was his offence when he only said ‘yes’ to the Chief Minister (his immediate boss). Well, the truth of the matter is a Chief Secretary cannot pretend to be someone who is a personal staff of the Chief Minister.
“The ex-Chief Secretary (Bandyopadhyay) was hand-in-glove with the Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) in the execution of her political agenda which seeks to deface and defile federal sanctity and propriety,” says Bose.
Sharing a similar sentiment, a serving civil servant Dr Srivatsa Krishna says rather caustically in his piece for cnbctv18.com: “Everything that is legal may not be proper. It is very improper of a CS to boycott a meeting called by the Prime Minister, even if it was not under the Disaster Management Act. He is an IAS officer, not a West Bengal civil service officer- all the privileges that come with being an IAS also come with certain responsibilities”.
Thus, he says, Bandyopadhyay’s “conduct, of boycotting an official meeting of the PM that too on cyclone relief, was clearly unbecoming of an IAS officer serving as the head of the state administration”.
He further says, “Rule 51B of the Disaster Management Act, supersedes the Conduct Rules, and it is well known that violation invites prosecution and even jail. Thus, the valid question to ask is, should the chief secretary of a state violate the constitutional propriety and protocol while dealing with the Prime Minister, even if his political boss chooses to do so? The answer is an emphatic no”.
Meanwhile, other aspects of his career are also coming to light.
One thing that strikes significantly is that Bandyopdhyay never served outside West Bengal – forget about central deputation. In fact, even his successor Hari Krishna Dwivedi, who is a 1988 batch officer, too, has not served on a Central deputation in his 33-year-career.
The central deputation actually gives the much necessary ‘exposure’ and ‘flexibility’ to work for the steel frame.
In fact, many serving and retired officials agree that ‘managing contradictions including political contradictions’ is part of the job of a civil servant and more so for an officer with three-decade of experience and heading the IAS team as the Chief Secretary.
Observers say the entire Kalaikunda saga only exposes his ‘inefficiency’. As the trusted top babu of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the onus was on Bandyopadhyay to explain the ‘sensitivity’ involved to the Chief Minister as the meeting was for a review for central assistance. Instead, he chose to be a participant in Mamata’s orchestrated plans to hurl insults at Narendra Modi.
At any cost, central assistance is vital to get the relief funds to help the people. Thus, Alapan’s actions — “advertent or inadvertent” as argues one officer does tantamount to a professional insult to the incumbent Prime Minister in office. Even protocol wise, a Prime Minister is superior to a Chief Minister.
The complexities are well explained by C V Ananda Bose. “Does it augur well for the service that a top bureaucrat who should have implemented the Disaster Management Act emerged as the disaster himself,” he wonders?
In his piece for ‘MoneyControl.com’, P K Basu, a former Union Agriculture Secretary, sums up some of the paradoxes well.
“Unfortunately, over the years, some officers started adjusting to the new normal and became yes-men/women. They forgot the oath of allegiance to the Constitution. They forgot the fact that they only had one boss: the Constitution of India — and not a Chief Minister. Politicians won over such officers by playing on their greed: a lucrative posting, a foreign jaunt, cheap land or house, post-retirement perks, etc.”