West Bengal's Fiery Chief Minister Upset Over Army Deployment
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has raised objections against the deployment of army in her state without taking permission from the civil authorities. She fears this is happening because of her opposition to the Indian PM's policies.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has flared up following the deployed of the Indian army in several parts of the state as a part of routine exercise. The Chief Minister rushed back to her office on Thursday night to "protect democracy" after receiving reports of army personnel standing at several toll booths in her state.
Following clarifications from the army, the Chief Minister and her party want the Defense Minister to come clean on the entire sequence of events that led to apprehensions of an army takeover.
"We want a clarification by the Defense Minister on army deployment in [West] Bengal without informing the local administration. The army is stopping traffic and putting stickers on the vehicles. The army has been deployed at 19 places in West Bengal. The Central government should clarify why haws the army been deployed in the state," Sudip Bandopadhyay, Member of Parliament of the Trinamool Congress Party, said.
Mamata Banerjee has reasons to feel hemmed in. A day earlier she alleged that the Modi Government had tried to kill her by refusing permission to her plane to land even though it was low on fuel. She has also joined hands with anti-corruption crusader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to oppose Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetization drive.
The Central Government says army deployment in north-eastern states including West Bengal is a routine affair. "It's a routine exercise and it will last till three more days," Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said in Parliament.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Anant Kumar said the exercise was also carried out last year. "I am very disappointed that political parties are politicizing the routine exercise of the military," he said.
Rebutting the claims of Mamata Bannerjee, the army said it was conducting the exercise in coordination with Kolkata Police. "This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to an agitation on November 28," said the Army General Officer Commanding of Bengal area Major General Sunil Yadav.
"This is an exercise carried out for our operational purposes. The Army from Eastern Command is carrying out a routine annual data collection exercise," he further added.
"The exercise involves collection of data in all North Eastern states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Sikkim. Over 80 such collection data points established in the entire region, personnel of army consisting of 5 to 6 at each point are unarmed."
While replying on the army deployment, Defense Minister of State, Subhash Bhamre said, "the allegations leveled are factually incorrect. The Army was collecting routine data."
"At each toll plaza only five to 10 army persons are collecting data on the number of vehicles. The exercise is going on in all the eastern states with due permissions and no permission have been withdrawn so far," Bhamre added.
Earlier Mamata Banerjee's associate had written a letter to Parliament Speaker demanding an explanation from Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar over the alleged military deployment in West Bengal.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|