Mamata writes to PM again on proposed changes to IAS cadre rules, BJP hits back

The West Bengal chief minister said that the proposed changes, if implemented, will 'irreparably damage the spirit of mutual accommodation between the Centre and the state'

Press Trust of India January 20, 2022 23:10:39 IST
Mamata writes to PM again on proposed changes to IAS cadre rules, BJP hits back

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday wrote yet another letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to withdraw the proposal to amend IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, as it would "create a fear psychosis among officers and impact their performance".

In the letter to the PM on the issue, her second in a week, Banerjee said the amendment will "destroy" the federal polity and basic structure of the Constitution.

The BJP hit back, stating that it was the "trend" to oppose every Centre's decision which is against the country's federal structure.

Banerjee, in her two-page missive, warned the PM of "greater movements" in case the Centre does not reconsider its decision.

"I humbly urge you to kindly reconsider this move by the central government and not to go ahead with the proposed amendments and request you not to push us to the points of greater movements on this issue to protect the soul of this great democracy that India is and has been (sic)," the CM wrote.

She also said that the proposed changes, if implemented, will "irreparably damage the spirit of mutual accommodation between the Centre and the state".

The Union government has proposed an amendment to IAS (Cadre) rules, which would enable it to post IAS officers on central deputation, bypassing reservations of state governments.

On 13 January, too, the CM had written to Modi, requesting him not to go ahead with the amendment.

"I'm constrained to invite your kind attention to the issue of IAS Cadre management yet again, twice in a week's time. I had written to you on this, conveying my reservations... but I had to write again, further reiterating my points, because the central government has, meanwhile, further accentuated its stand, proposing yet another revised draft, taking the matter to further non-federal extremes," she wrote in her letter to Modi on Thursday.

The CM pointed out that the proposal's "very grain is against the foundations of our great federal polity and the basic structure of India's Constitutional scheme".

"It is going to completely render them (officers) and all the state governments at the mercy of the central government since the All India Services is the backbone of the state's administrative machinery. It will hang on the head of each officer of the All India Services like a Damocles' sword.

"It will create fear psychosis and impact their performance, effectiveness and accountability to the state government. This will destroy the fundamental principle of the Services which postulates that an officer serving in connection with the affairs of the state is accountable to the state government alone," Banerjee emphasised.

In her earlier letter, too, Banerjee had expressed her reservations on the proposed amendments, insisting that it is against the "spirit of cooperative federalism".

"I beseech you to kindly withdraw the proposed amendments which will not only harm the country but will also lead to the demolition of our democracy," she had said.

Taking exception to Banerjee's request, the BJP leadership said the TMC's stand on the matter was "detrimental to the country's federal structure".

"IAS officers have suffered because of the whimsical approach of the state government. These rules are being amended, keeping in mind the career progression of the officers," Bengal BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.

The Congress, however, echoed the views of the TMC.

"We have witnessed the instance of the Alapan Bandopadhyay, whose deputation had created a row. The BJP government tries to be in control of everything -- from postings of IAS officers to every other aspect of federal structure. This does not augur well for a democracy," state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

The CPI (M), though opposed to the Centre's proposition to amend the IAS (Cadre) Rules, said the TMC government, too, takes up undemocratic measures to terrorise" civil servants.

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