West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday hit back at defence minister Manohar Parrikar for writing a letter to her in which he alleged that she was trying to demoralise the armed forces.
Banerjee took ‘strong exception’ to Parrikar’s comment that her allegations had impacted ‘the morale of the country’s armed forces’.
“During my long political and administrative life, have never seen such political vendetta by misusing the role of an esteemed organisation (army),”
“I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of rights of the state government has impacted the morale of armed forces,” she said in a statement issued on Friday.
Earlier, Parrikar had written to the Trinamool Congress supremo asking her to be ‘extremely careful while referring to the armed forces’.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's letter to WB CM Mamata Banerjee, expresses pain over dragging the Army into controversy pic.twitter.com/LVAsdoscsl— ANI (@ANI_news) December 9, 2016
Banerjee also alleged that the government is using the Army for political purposes. “During my long political and administrative life, have never seen such political vendetta by misusing the role of an esteemed organisation (army),” the West Bengal chief minister said in the statement.
Pained over Parrikar’s allegations, she said, “They don’t know how to write to a CM.”
“Don’t think that it behoves a Union government minister to pass near-defamatory remarks on a CM of any State,” she added.
Earlier, senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien told the ANI that the party will soon give a ‘befitting reply’ to Parrikar’s letter.
The presence of the army on a crucial Kolkata bridge last week sparked a political fight with the Trinamool Congress alleging the Centre was arm-twisting the state and the BJP blaming Banerjee of politicising a regular military action.
The war of words followed a night of drama after Banerjee refused to step out of the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the “sudden deployment” of the army in the area.
Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter to Banerjee dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years.
He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.
“I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said in his letter to Banerjee.
Describing Indian army as the “most disciplined institution of the country”, he said the nation is proud of their “professionalism and apolitical conduct”.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)