Kolkata: Ending her 36-hour long stay at the state secretariat, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday left Nabanna, hitting out at the centre over an alleged army deployment in state’s toll plazas without her government’s knowledge by calling the move a ‘political vendetta’.
“We have great respect for the army. But the manner in which they are being used for political vendetta is sad,” Banerjee told the media.
Banerjee said she will explore legal options if the Army was ‘not withdrawn’ by the Centre.
She said: “We have never seen such arrogance (by Centre). If Army is not withdrawn we will explore legal options.”
The Army on Friday released a series of letters to prove that it had not made any deployment without informing the West Bengal Police and authorities about some routine exercises in some toll plazas, including the one of the second Hooghly Bridge near state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah.
After Chief Minister alleged last night that there is an army coup like situation and she would not leave Nabanna building to protect democracy, the Army in a press conference dismissed with contempt the
charges that their personnel were collecting money from toll plazas. The officiating GoC of Bengal area, Major Gen Sunil Yadav, clarified the stand of the army on the issue. He said it is “an annual exercise carried out every year.” He said it is annual data collection exercise on availability of load carriers at major entry points and in coordination with local police authorities.
He said the exercise dates were even changed at the specific request of the state’s police.
“We had carried out a similar exercise last year from Nov 19 to 25, in the same location,” he said, adding that similar exercies were carried out by the army in Bihar and Jharkhand in Sept.
While the Trinamool Congress raised the issue in Parliament, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also said that the Bengal authorities were informed well in advance. He called it political frustration of the Trinamool Congress.
West Bengal Police, however, tweeted that “in almost all areas of West Bengal army has been deployed without consent of the State Govt.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday night said that she would not leave state’s main administrative building Nabanna until the Centre withdrew army personnel from a toll plaza near the Secretariat even as the Army in a statement said they were present in the area for a routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination of state police.
Eastern Command, tweeted: “Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect.”
“Routine exercise in all NE states. In Assam @ 18 places, Arunanchal@13, WB@19, Manipur@6, Nagaland@5, Meghalaya@5, Tripura & Mizoram@1@adgpi,” the tweet said.
Besides Palsit toll plaza in Burdwan and Dankuni toll plaza in Hooghly district, few army personnel were seen in Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge) toll plaza, which are very close to state’s main administrative building Nabanna.
India Blooms News Service