In an apparent spat between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor K N Tripathi over Army deployment at toll plazas in Bengal, the latter on Saturday urged all not to make defamatory allegations against a responsible organisation like the Indian Army.
“Every person should take care in making an allegation against a responsible organisation like Army. Don’t let down the Army. Don’t defame the Army,” the Governor told the media in Kolkata. Attacking the Governor on his disapproval of her remarks on the deployment of Army at toll plazas, Banerjee sharply reacted: “The Governor is speaking in the voice of Central government.”
Describing Tripathi’s statement as “unfortunate”, Banerjee said: “Before making statements, all details should have been checked. It is very unfortunate. He was not in the city for about 8 days”.
Trinamool Congress Secretary General and minister Partha Chatterjee later led an eight-member party delegation to Raj Bhavan. After meeting the Governor, he told media persons that “we asked him on what basis he made this remark”.
The Governor told the delegation he said this on the basis of what he had been informed by the Army.
“No Governor should make such comment against any state government or Chief Minister. We never made any remarks on our Governor, but we are very sad to make this comment today. Perhaps he is representing a particular political party. Both the Centre and the Governor are playing this dirty game making Army their shield. This is most unfortunate,” Chatterjee said.
The presence of Army personnel at toll plazas had triggered a row with Banerjee questioning if it was an “Army coup.” She had also claimed that Army personnel were taking money from vehicles which they were not supposed to do.
Accusing the Centre of “deploying the Army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the Secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district, Banerjee had not left her office till next morning and stayed put for nearly 36 hours.
The Defence Ministry later said that the Army was conducting routine exercise with full knowledge of and coordination with West Bengal police. “The Army conducts the annual exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency,” said a Defence Ministry spokesman.
However, Banerjee rubbished the spokesman’s clarification and tweeted: “Absolutely wrong and misleading facts by @easterncomd. We have great respect for you, but please please don’t mislead the people.”
Banerjee further added that she has collected information from Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha and Chhattisgarh and nowhere such a thing was been done.