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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.