Parrikar Writes to Mamata, Says Deeply ‘Pained’ Over Army Controversy

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New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday wrote a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and expressed pain over dragging the Army into a controversy after she accused the Centre of creating a ‘coup’ like situation in West Bengal.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on December 1 accused the Centre of creating a situation “worse than Emergency” by deploying Army personnel at Palsit and Dankuni toll plazas on NH-2 in West Bengal without informing her government.

“I have been deeply pained by your allegation, your allegation in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of armed forces and the same was not expected from the person of your standing and experience in public,” he wrote.

Further, Parrikar asserted that Indian Army is one of the most disciplined institution of our country dedicated to the safety and security of the nation.

Attacking CM Mamata Banerjee for her statement, Parrikar said, “Political parties and the politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other, but one needs to be extremely careful while referring to armed forces.”

“Your allegations run the risk of adversely impacting the moral of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” Mr Parrikar wrote in his letter.

“If only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of the sites carried out by them.”

On December 1, soldiers at a toll plaza near the Chief Minister’s headquarters “Nabanna” in Kolkata infuriated Ms Banerjee and she refused to leave her office, demanding that the army be removed first. She accused the centre of “trying to bulldoze” her government.

“I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching, to guard our democracy,” she tweeted.

The Army said it had been in touch with the Bengal police on the annual exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the Army in case of a contingency.” It also denied the state government’s allegation that its personnel collected toll at the booths.

Ms Banerjeee finally left her office 30 hours later, long after the army had withdrawn. In parliament, she and her Trinamool Congress were backed by opposition parties.

Mr Parrikar, who had accused Ms Banerjee of acting out of “political frustration”, said in his letter: “Political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other but one needs to be extremely careful while referring to our armed forces.”

As per Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien, the letter has not reached the West Bengal Chief Minister. Trinamool lawmaker Derek O’Brien said the Defence Minister’s letter has been “leaked” to the media before it could reach Ms Banerjee. “Mamata Banerjee will give a strong reply,” he added.

Reacting to the letter, TMC leader Sukhendu Shekhar said, “We have all respect for Indian Army. We have also submitted the detail on how Army was depolyed. What the Defense Minister has written is totally rubbish.”

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