Updated: December 4, 2016 10:12:53 pm
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said army was present in some toll plazas in West Bengal to study the carrying capacity of the roads in case of mass armed forces movement and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of playing politics over the forces.
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“The other day I was listening to the statement by a Chief Minister of one state. Army had gone (to that state) for routine survey. Every year once or twice, they visit the states to study the vehicle carrying capacity of the road. This is done considering the preparedness to move the armed forces,” Parrikar said without naming Banerjee during the ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Goa’s Mayem constituency.
“These forces don’t move in a group of 100-200, they are 10,000-15,000 in numbers and for such movement at-least 500 trucks are required. Therefore, the Army always check(s) the carrying capacity of the road,” he said.
“Also they (Army) checks how many lorries (trucks) are available in the nearby villages. This is their annual exercise,” said the Defence Minister.
Explaining Army’s presence at the toll posts, Parrikar said, “they were standing at toll post because the vehicles stop there. If Army wants to ask any information, it can be sought there.”
Parrikar also said, “I don’t know what the Chief Minister felt. When I was about to go to sleep, the television started flashing (the statement) that Army has taken over.”
“I inquired (with the Army), they informed me that the proper communication has been made with the state government. Originally the Army was supposed to conduct that exercise on November 28, 29 and 30, but since ‘Bharat Bandh’ was declared on November 28, we were requested to shift it to December 1 and 2,” he added.
“I can understand the grief (she suffered) due to demonetisation but why should Army be involved in politics. You will never find Army involved in politics. That day I witnessed what is political frustration,” the former Goa Chief Minister said.
Parrikar further accused that many politicians were in grief because “those who had stocked money as a preparedness towards election, their money has became useless overnight due to demonetisation”.
On December 2, presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal triggered a row with Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.
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