BJP slams Mamata Banerjee for politicising Army's mock drill

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the Central government of "deploying the Army" along highway toll plazas.

BJP slams Mamata Banerjee for politicising Army's mock drill

Kolkata: A day after Mamata Banerjee accused the Centre of creating a situation "worse than Emergency" by deploying Army personnel at two toll plazas on a national highway without informing her government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday hit back at the West Bengal Chief Minister.

The BJP lashed out at Banerjee for politicising the mock drill conducted by the Indian Army and alleged that she is least bothered about her state.

"It`s so ridiculous that the CM does not know about the mock drill of the Army, which takes place every three to four years...It is quite strange that the CM is not aware about it even as the DM and state administration has proper knowledge about the same," BJP leader Rahul Sinha told news agency ANI.

In a dramatic turn of events, the West Bengal Chief Minister vowed not to leave the secretariat despite the withdrawal of soldiers from a toll gate close to it early Friday.

Accusing the central government of "deploying the Army" along a highway toll plaza, which is at the second Hooghly Bridge and about 500 m from the secretariat, Banerjee had previously said that the state government was kept "in the dark".

"I won't leave unless the Army is withdrawn from near the secretariat. I'll keep vigil to protect democracy, to protect my democratically elected government," Banerjee told a hurriedly convened late night media meet on Thursday at the secretariat Nabanna in neighbouring Howrah district.

A little after midnight, the Eastern Command said the Army has been asked to withdraw from the toll plaza near Nabanna as it had already collected the data it required.

Past 2 am, Banerjee -- holding her third round of media conference since the evening -- reiterated she would spend the night at Nabanna, fearing the Army may be back.

"The Army has withdrawn from the second Hooghly Bridge after 2 am. They will definitely come back. After Nabanna, they have entered various districts. The Army has been deployed in 80 percent of the areas," she alleged.

"I'll remain awake all night to keep vigil. I will spend the night at Nabanna," she said.

The riveting drama unfolded on Thursday evening, when Banerjee alleged the Army has been deployed at the Dankuni and Palsit toll plazas on National Highway 2 (connecting Delhi and Kolkata) without informing the state government.

She said the Chief Secretary was writing to the central government and she would approach President Pranab Mukherjee seeking clarification on the issue.

The Defence Ministry, however, said that the Army was conducting routine exercise with full knowledge of and co-ordination with the West Bengal Police.

(With Agency inputs)

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