23 December 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Centre spars with Mamata in bid to turn Bengal babus into stool pigeons

The battle for the West Bengal assembly elections looms ahead but skirmishes have already started. After the attack on BJP president J.P. Nadda’s convoy in the state, the Centre retaliated against the TMC government by recalling 3 IPS officers from the state on Central deputation.  Further, to perhaps underline the “message”, the Ministry of Home Affairs summoned state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and Director General of Police Virendra to Delhi to explain the law and order situation in Bengal.

A defiant Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to comply with the summons. Also, she declined the Centre’s demand to send the three IPS officers – Bholanath Pandey, Rajeev Mishra and Praveen Kumar Tripathi – on deputation saying there was a dearth of good officers in the state, and the state could not spare the three officers.

There is a precedent here. The then chief minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalitha had similarly denied the Centre in 1991 when the state police had conducted a raid on the house of former state chief minister and DMK leader M Karunanidhi, her arch rival. The Centre had  asked the Tamil Nadu government to relieve the three officers involved for Central deputation. Like Mamata now, she had refused to spare those officers.

Apparently, there is little the Centre can do against civil service officers who are posted under the state government. For any action to be taken on an officer, the state and the Centre both need to agree.

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