Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a letter to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee stated he was “deeply pained” by her allegations on the army’s presence at toll booths in Bengal and didn’t expect it from “someone of your standing”.
“Your allegations risk the morale of the armed forces and this is not expected from a persons of your standing in public life,” said Parrikar.
Explaining the army’s Eastern Command in West Bengal conducting a routine counting exercise in Bengal, he said it was unfortunate that Banerjee alleged that she wasn’t consulted and that she was being allegedly harassed for her notes ban protest.
This was being done not just in West Bengal but nine north-eastern states at 80 such data collection points. It was an annual exercise and was carried out at same locations last year too, he said, adding all the Army officials were unarmed.
The army recently held data collection in UP, Jharkhand and Bihar.
On December 1, army jawans at a toll plaza near ‘Nabanna’ in Kolkata irked TMC supremo Banerjee so much that she refused to leave her office to protect democracy, accused the Centre of trying to bulldoze her government. Banerjee had refused to leave her office till the army personnel were withdrawn from toll plazas, and had asked whether it was an “army coup”, drawing sharp reaction from the Centre.
Parrikar said though politicians may make wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other, but one needs to be careful while referring about the army.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) Derek O’Brien said Parrikar’s letter was leaked to the media before it could reach Banerjee. “Banerjee will give a strong reply,” he added.