KOLKATA -- Taking a strong exception to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's remark on the army deployment issue, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said it does not behove of a Union Minister to pass "near-defamatory" remarks on a chief minister of any state, and asked him to "rectify his attitude".
"I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation on the nights of the State Government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces. You have also in the last paragraph chosen to convey the laughable idea that you are the sole spokesperson on behalf of the people at large. I do not think that it behoves a Minister to the Union Government to pass near-defamatory remarks on a Chief Minister of any State," Mamata said.
The strong response from the chief minister came after Parrikar expressed his disappointment in dragging the Indian Army into controversy over a routine matter, adding that her allegation in this regard runs the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country's armed forces.
"Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt to your party, but we do not belong to that group," she added.
Mamata said the Centre had allowed the deployment of army without prior information to the state government. She said that even the Kolkata Police objected for any exercise within 200 meters of the Secretariat, which is a high security zone.
"During my long political and administrative life, I have never seen such political vendetta by misusing the role of an esteemed organisation," she said.
She pointed out that such exercise were earlier done in joint coordination with the state government to which the state government used to provide full cooperation.
"If deployment for any other purpose is to be done in civil areas, the clearance of the State Government is required. Otherwise, this may cause wide-ranging disruptions in civil life including traffic congestion, law and order problems and may even cause panic for the people at large," she said.
Reminding the Defence Minister to take prior permission from the state government before undertaking exercises, she said, "I would request you to ensure that before undertaking any large-scale exercise in the civilian area of the State, correspondence by officials of your Ministry should be at the highest level of the State Government and that the written clearance of the State Government should be invariably obtained before initiation of any such exercise."