Modi vs Banerjee duel

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The fight between the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is far from over. The recently concluded West Bengal assembly elections had seen a bitter war of words between Modi and Banerjee. After registering a thumping victory in the polls Banerjee was sworn in again as the state’s chief minister. This may have irked Narendra Modi who had gone all out against the Banerjee led Trinamool Congress hoping that BJP would sweep the state. On the other hand, the win may have become the new found pride for Banerjee who seems to be least bothered about the democratic decorum. India already leads a very fragile federal democratic system where many incidents of state-union clash have been reported in the past. But it seems that this time both Banerjee and Modi are in no mood to relent which means more trouble for the federal democracy.
The ongoing cold war between Modi and Banerjee was already out in the open but it became more evident after the Prime Minister indirectly tried to interfere in state affairs. Recently the Prime Minister called on the state government and the CM of West Bengal to discuss the cyclone preparedness where Banerjee once again walked out on the Prime Minister of the country. Moreover, this time around, Banerjee also kept the Prime Minister waiting for the cyclone impact meeting, against the protocols. This irked Modi so much that immediately the union government recalled the state’s chief secretary and asked him to be present at the Department of Personnel and Training, North Block, New Delhi by 10am on May 31. Many are of the opinion that this move by the Union government was a bit too much as the Chief Secretary had no role in the entire meeting episode. Nevertheless, the union government did need a scope to vent its anger and make it known to the Chief Minister and the chief secretary may well have become the scapegoat.
Ironically, never in the history of independent India has a chief secretary of the state been treated so badly. The chief secretary reports to the Chief Minister and is expected to follow her instructions. So, the CS Alapan Bandyopadhyay leaving with Banerjee on the fateful meeting day cannot be pinned as a fault of the CS. But then again this is not the first time that the Modi led union government has flexed its muscles and shown off its autocratic authority. A few states have been repeatedly complaining about biased treatment of the union government to non-BJP ruled states. However, Banerjee was quick to respond and sent off a letter to the Prime Minister stating that the state could not release Alapan, and is not releasing him at this critical hour of the pandemic. The five-page letter asked the Prime Minister to rescind the transfer order. With neither Kolkata nor Delhi ready to give in, the cold war seems to be heading for more bitter days in future.

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