West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that the central government’s decision to place the services of State Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay with the Government of India was a “political vendetta”.

The centre had, on Friday, asked Bengal to send Bandyopadhyay to the Department of Personnel and Training’s office in Delhi by May 31. The development came hours after Banerjee allegedly skipped a meeting with the Prime Minister to assess the impact of Cyclone Yaas, and instead handed over to him a report in a quick interaction.

It is to be noted that Bandyopadhyay, who was set to retire on May 31, was given a three-month extension at the behest of the state government.

“I wrote a letter on May 10 requesting for a three months’ extension for the Chief Secretary keeping in view the pandemic situation and the possible disruption likely to be caused by the Cyclone Yaas so that he can pay attention to reconstruction work and I got a reply on May 24 sanctioning the same. It was shocking to receive a letter from the government of India requisitioning his service,” she said in a virtual press conference from Nabanna, the state secretariat, on Saturday.

Calling this an unprecedented move, she said, one would not have heard of any such forced deputation of a State Chief Secretary since independence.

“We went there only to pay our respect to the PM and submit the cyclone report and then we had to go to Digha so we sought his permission to leave, now what is our fault?” she asked.

Urging the government to withdraw the letter, she said, “Do not come down with political vendetta against the Chief Secretary. Allow him to work for Covid and cyclone, please withdraw the letter.”

According to her, the move is not only going to disturb her Secretariat but is also very humiliating for all the Chief Secretaries as they are all very shocked for such unconstitutional, illegal and one-sided decision.

Alleging that the central government’s behaviour was mainly because of the Trinamool Congress’ “landslide victory” in Bengal, she said, they should accept people’s mandate and should not bulldoze the federal structure.

“You are not able to digest the defeat, and that is why you are going in for such confrontations all the time,” she argued.

Decline in Covid positivity ratio

The lockdown like strict restrictions enforced in the State is yielding results as the daily positivity ratio has declined to around 18-19 per cent from the earlier 33 per cent.

She further expressed confidence that things could be brought down to manageable levels if all protocols were followed properly for the next 15 days. The average death rate during the second wave in the State is close to 0.36 per cent, much lower than around 1.67 per cent during the first wave, she added.