West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday described the Centre’s proposed move to start major penalty proceedings against the former State Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay as highly irresponsible behaviour.
She said the Centre was victimising Mr. Bandyopadhyay and using brute force against a very competent and dedicated officer.
“If by using brute force someone wants to be a selfish giant, then the law will take its own course,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr. Bandyopadhyay, she said, was free to take his own decisions, and the State government would fully support him. After the former Chief Secretary opted to retire on May 31, the State government appointed him Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister.
Ms. Banerjee said that the officer, who had lost three family members, including his brother, to COVID-19 in a span of a few weeks, was undergoing “mental agony”. She said the former Chief Secretary was not alone in his fight and he was getting support from bureaucrats across the country.
By-polls in West Bengal
Taking a swipe at the Election Commission of India, the Chief Minister said it must be waiting for an approval from the Prime Minister for holding by-polls in the State. “I request the Prime Minister to allow the by-election,” she said.
Election to several constituencies where contestants had died or resigned after the polls were pending. The Chief Minister herself was likely to contest from the Bhawanipur Assembly seat, which was vacated by Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay. Ms. Banerjee lost in Nandigram by a narrow margin of 1956 votes in the recently concluded Assembly polls.
Ms. Banerjee said the by-election should ideally be held within six months and she was expecting an announcement in the next seven days.
“Elections were held when the case positivity rate had climbed to 33%. Now the case positivity rate is three per cent and it will come down further in the next few days,” she said. The BJP was unable to digest its defeat in the State, she said.
WHO approval of Covaxin
She urged the Centre to speed up the process of obtaining WHO approval for Covaxin as students who had been administered the vaccine were unable to travel outside the country.
She said the State government would revamp its vaccination process and increase daily vaccination from three lakh to four lakh. The State government would treat mothers with children under 12 years as a priority group in the vaccination process to prevent the third wave of the pandemic affecting children.