Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
on Friday said West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's allegation that the state's rights are being impinged upon by the Centre, was a clear sign of her political frustration, and added that it is saddening to see her and other opposition parties questioning the credibility of the Indian Army
while it was performing a routine annual military exercise.
Addressing the Lower House of Parliament, Parrikar asserted that the deployment of army
is a routine exercise being carried out since many years.
"It is army's routine exercise being carried out since many years. It also took place on November 19 and 21 last year too. Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now," he said.
"Concerned officials were intimated by Army
this year too. Original dates were November 28, 29 and 30 but were changed to December 1 and 2 later," he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told Rajya Sabha that West Bengal
government was informed about the drill, while urging the Upper House to not drag the Indian Army
into an unwarranted controversy.
"It is a sensitive matter as it pertains to the Army, let us not derail from important issues," said Naidu.
"Bengal was taken into confidence, it happened last year as well and last to last year. Let's not drag army
into controversy," said Naidu.
Hysteria gripped West Bengal
on Thursday night after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
decided not to go home and instead stayed put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the "sudden deployment" of the army
in the area.
Banerjee camped overnight at her office in the secretariat in Kolkata, objecting to the presence of Army
jawans at toll booths, one just 500 metres from where she was.
"Is this a military coup?" the Banerjee asked, alleging that the state government had been had not been informed about what the Army
said was a routine exercise that it was conducting across eastern states.