Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that the army was conducting a routine exercise in West Bengal and the northeastern states and also rejected the allegations levelled by TMC that state government was not informed about it.
“This is a routine exercise of the Army which has been continuing since last 15 to 20 years. This exercise was conducted last year too between November 19-21,” Parrikar said in Lok Sabha.
“Even this year, the same exercise was being conducted in West Bengal and other northeastern states. This was also done in Uttar Pradesh and Jhakhand,” he added.
“Earlier, it was decided that the exercises would take place between November 28-30. But state police urged to extend to dates as there was shut down on November 28. So it was decided that the exercises would take place between December 1 to December 3,” Parrikar said.
He also accused the TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of politicising the matter.
“It is saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now. It is wrong to politicise it. This is politics in frustration rather than correct aspect being pointed out,” Parrikar said.
Earlier, raising the matter during question hour, TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay the army deployment was done by keeping the state government in dark.
He said that army was deployed along a highway toll plaza, which is at the second Hooghly Bridge and about 500 m from the secretariat.
“The Chief Minister is still sitting on Dharna inside the secretariat demanding immediate withdrawal of the army,” he said.