After Defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s strong letter to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee now the CM returned the words to the Defence minister. Parrikar alleged she was trying to politicise everything and was against the Indian Army. But Banerjee opposed that her complaint was against government policy, not the Army.
In a two-page letter, she said to Parrikar, “My complaint was not against the army. It was against your government and the government policy, as they act under your directions. We have great respect for their nationalism and professionalism.”
She told she was surprised how Mr. Parrikar’s letter to her was reached to electronic media hours before she got it.
The CM said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”
She added, “Your general observations about political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group.”
In his letter, Mr. Parrikar expressed ‘deep pain’ over her allegation against the Indian Army for its recent exercises at the toll gates. He blamed her accusation can adversely impact the morale of the Army.
She alleged that the Union Defence minister chose to convey the laughable idea that he was “the sole spokesperson on behalf of the people at large”.
Mamata Banerjee stated it didn’t suit a Union government minister to pass near defamatory remark on a CM of any state and “I trust that you will rectify this attitude.”
She further said the Defence Ministry “has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas”.
She maintained earlier the state government provided full cooperation and the exercises were done in joint coordination with the government. “But this time unfortunately, the Ministry of Defence had made a departure… You will appreciate that toll plaza data is readily available with the National Highway Authority of India and other agencies and exercise could have been avoided.”
Banerjee asserted before doing any large-scale exercise in the civilian area in the state the Defence ministry should inform the highest level of the state government and “written clearance of the state government should be invariably obtained before initiation of any such exercise”.
She also claimed that the central government did not listen to the objection of the Kolkata police to any exercise within 200 metres of the State Secretariat, the high-security zone.
On 1st December, unarmed soldiers were deployed across Bengal and several north-east states as part of their annual exercise at the checkpoints and toll plazas to note the movement of vehicles which could be diverted in case of a major disaster, military operation or war. But the Bengal CM alleged that the Army was denied permission to hold the exercises.