Stating that Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is still staying put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the deployment of the army in the area, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien on Friday said the army personnel were still deployed in over one dozen districts of Bengal.
"The Chief Minister has been in the secretariat over night, and till midnight, about 12.15 a.m., when I got reports that the army personnel were still deployed in over one dozen districts of Bengal," said O'Brien, confirming that Banerjee is still at the secretariat.
"We have full respect for the army, but there are three points: one, the data they are looking for, we are told, is already available; second, are they authorised to go and collect funds from toll plazas; and third, which is completely incorrect, the Eastern Command have put out a tweet saying that this has been coordinated and everybody in the police knows. I have to say this is untrue and false," he added.
Asked that the BJP had accused Mamata that she has lost her mental balance after losing her poll money, O'Brien said "I don't want to lower the dignity of my argument or the dignity of the Trinamool Congress even by responding to obnoxious charges of the BJP."
The Eastern Command of the Indian Army tweeted: "Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect @adgpi"
"Routine exercise in all NE states. In Assam @ 18 places, Arunanchal@13, WB@19, Manipur@6, Nagaland@5, Meghalaya@5, Tripura & Mizoram@1@adgpi," it further tweeted.
Banerjee on Thursday alleged that the Centre deployed army personnel at two toll plazas, Palsit and Dankuni, on NH 2 without informing the state government.
Describing the act as a "black day", Mamata said this move clearly violates the nation's federal structure.
"Army has been deployed at two toll plazas without informing the state.
They are normally deployed during disasters. This is clearly a black day," she said.
"The state was not informed about this development. In a federal structure, the functions of Centre and state are clearly divided. But this act clearly violates our jurisdiction," she added.
According to reports, at least six vehicles of military police were spotted at the toll plaza Vidyasagar Setu, a bridge that connects Kolkata to Howrah.
However, it was later reported to be a mere routine exercise.
Reacting to this, the Chief Minister stated that the permission of the government is needed even if the army was to conduct a mock trial in the state. "Even if the army conducted mock trial, the permission of the state should have been sought," she said.
Mamata said that she would not take this incident lightly as she would approach President Pranab Mukherjee and apprise him of the matter.
"The Chief Secretary is writing to the Centre. I will approach the President regarding deployment of army without our knowledge," she said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)