She also held out a dire warning when she said the Narendra Modi-led Union government would, one day, “repent” its attempts to bulldoze federalism. “We are not scared by their threats. Bengal has never learnt to lose. We will always walk with our head held high,” she said.
Mamata alleged that the Centre was looking to “divert attention” of the people, having failed the country on several fronts — managing Covid, stopping the economy from faltering and halting agricultural distress.
“I believe opposition chief ministers should come together and raise their voice. Not all states will heed them. There has always been a Lakshman rekha between the Centre and the states. Jawaharlal Nehru and B R Ambedkar had stressed on it. It was laid out in the Sarkaria Commission and later upheld by the Supreme Court. There is a consultative process,” said Mamata.
“…they issued back-to-back letters, without any justification or reason. You could not give justice, and you are doing further injustice by targeting the bureaucracy… They cannot stop us from fighting,” she added.
Mamata was referring to the controversy caused by the central deputation order on Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who retired as Bengal chief secretary on Monday and chose not to accept the deputation, and the three-month extension granted to him by the Centre just days ago.
“This is an act of political vendetta. I have never seen such a heartless and ruthless Prime Minister and home minister. They are now targeting Mamata Banerjee’s chief secretary and officers to attack her. Federalism has been undermined, there has been no consultative process. And Monday’s letter adds insult to injury…. I wonder who advises the PM. Why this political vendetta? Just because you do not like Mamata Banerjee and because you have been defeated?” she said.
Questioning Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s purported comment that Bandyopadhyay had “walked out of a meeting”, the CM said: “Politicians stage walk-outs. Can a bureaucrat ever walk out?”
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also spoke out in Banerjee’s support. “This is not the right time to fight with state governments, but to fight the coronavirus together,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee shot off a letter to the PM. “The unilateral ‘order’ comes without any prior consultation whatsoever with the government of West Bengal, without any volition/option of the officer, without meeting any of the pre-conditions of the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954 and other applicable laws”, she wrote.
“If a chief secretary of a state can be asked to be relieved like this, how can the lower bureaucracy take, obey, and implement orders in their letter or spirit from the state chief minister, other ministers and officers. I presume and sincerely hope that you do not want to damage the federal amity. I also presume and sincerely hope that you do not want to destroy the morale of all the All India Service officers working in various states across the country,” the letter added.