A routine drill by Eastern Command of Army to check availability of civil transport for any potential mobilization of troops and stores in case of war, was likened to ‘Emergency being imposed in the country without declaration’ by West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee
Mamta went on to say that ‘Army has been deployed at two toll plazas without informing the State’, and called the Army presence as a ‘black day’. She took special umbrage to Army being stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal State Secretariat, and decided to stay overnight at the Secretariat in order to ‘guard our democracy’. She also offered to lay down her life for the ‘rights of the people’
WB Police also reiterated the stance of the CM that the Army exercise was carried out without taking the State Government into confidence.
However, the Eastern Command of the Army said that the routine exercise was being carried out with full knowledge and coordination of the WB police. They also said that the exercise was being carried out across many NE states. Interestingly, no other state Government has opposed the Army exercise.
A retired Major General of the Army took to twitter to explain the rationale behind the exercise, and criticized the State Government for blowing it out of proportion –
TMC leader Derek O’Brien had shared this video of the Army ‘takeover’ –
What is the Army doing at toll plazas in Bengal without Centre informing State. Watch video 2/2 pic.twitter.com/3Kxb9yYa85
— Derek O’Brien (@quizderek) December 1, 2016
Same Mamta is silent over series of riots in her state
Recently, during Durga Puja, a series of riots had broken out in West Bengal where poor Hindus were disproportionately targeted. And this was not a new phenomenon – WB police has been a complete failure in stopping the Islamic radicalization of large swathes of WB’s hinterland, since the Islamists have full backing of the ruling TMC.
Hitting out at an Army data collection exercise in her state, marks a new low in Mamta Banerjee’s term as CM. She is behaving as if West Bengal is separate from the Union of Bharat, and is allowing her political battle with PM Narendra Modi to take a dangerous new turn.
The Army is one institution which commands respect across the nation. It is the last line of defense this country has in case of external and internal aggression. Especially in sensitive border states like West Bengal, the Army needs to work in close co-ordination with State Governments. Such petty squabbling over a simple data collection exercise is unbecoming for a person holding a Constitutional Post like CM.
People on social media were quick to deride Mamta Banerjee for cooking up such conspiracy theories, which have brought her to the same league as Delhi CM – ‘Modi can get me killed’ – Arvind Kejriwal.
This episode is reminiscent of the 2012 ‘coup’ story broken by Shekhar Gupta wherein he dubbed two Army units movement towards Delhi as indicative of a coup attempt. That sensationalist story was dismissed as baseless even by the UPA-2 Government, and it later emerged that the story might have been planted by a senior cabinet minister to discredit Army Chief VK Singh.
Opposition parties like TMC and dubious media operators should think twice before dragging the Army into their scheming political games. This could well backfire on them, as such scaremongering using the Army is not doing their credibility and reputation any good. It just makes them look like crazy desperadoes clamoring for some attention.
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