Opposition Backs Mamata on Army Deployment; Centre Denies Charge
File Photo of Mamata Banerjee and PM Modi.
New Delhi: The United Opposition came out in support of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee as the West Bengal Chief Minister raised the issue of Army deployment in the state in Lok Sabha.
Echoing the sentiments of the TMC Chief, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, in Rajya Sabha, questioned the deployment of the Army at the Dankuni and Palsit toll plazas on National Highway 2.
Azad asked the Centre to clarify its stand on issue. He claimed that when no law and order issue is there in the state, then why are its rights being impinged on.
Reacting to Azad's questions, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that Bengal was taken into confidence and urged the leaders to not drag Army into any controversy.
"It is a sensitive matter as it pertains to the Army, let us not derail from important issues," he said.
BSP Chief Mamata Banerjee came forward in support of Banerjee and accused the Centre of doing injustice to the Bengal CM. She also said that the situation in Bengal today, is an attack on the Constitution of India.
"Politicisation of the Indian Army should not be done," Mayawati added.
Meanwhile, giving an explanation amid uproar in Rajya Sabha, MoS Defence Subhash Bhamre informed that a similar exercise was done in 2015 at the same location.
On this, the TMC accused Bhamre of misleading the Rajya Sabha. The party also sought for a conclusive answer by the Centre on the issue of Army deployment.
Noteworthy, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, slamming the claims made by the West Bengal Chief Minister, said in Lok Sabha that the concerned officials were intimated by Army.
He also asserted that the original dates of the drill were December 28, 29 and 30 which were changed to December 1 and 2 later.
Expressing grief, he also said that it is saddening to see that a routine exercise has been turned into a controversy.
Meanwhile, denying the charge of money collection by the Army at two toll booths in West Bengal, Major General Sunil Yadav termed the allegations as baseless.
He clarified that the deployment of the Army is an exercise carried out for their operational purposes and that the personnel at the toll booths are unarmed.
Exercise involves collection of data in all NE states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim.
"Over 80 such collection data points established in entire region," he said.