Panaji: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of playing politics over Armed forces.
He said that the Army was present in some toll plazas in the state to study the carrying capacity of the roads in case of mass Armed forces movement.
"The other day I was listening to the statement by a Chief Minister of one state. Army had gone (to that state) for routine survey. Every year once or twice, they visit the states to study the vehicle carrying capacity of the road. This is done considering the preparedness to move the armed forces," the Defence Minister said without naming Banerjee during the 'Vijay Sankalp' rally at Goa's Mayem constituency.
"These forces don't move in a group of 100-200, they are 10,000-15,000 in numbers and for such movement at-least 500 trucks are required. Therefore, the Army always check(s) the carrying capacity of the road. Also they (Army) checks how many lorries (trucks) are available in the nearby villages. This is their annual exercise," he added.
Explaining Army's presence at the toll posts, Parrikar said, "they were standing at toll post because the vehicles stop there. If Army wants to ask any information, it can be sought there. I don't know what the Chief Minister felt. When I was about to go to sleep, the television started flashing (the statement) that Army has taken over," as per PTI.
"I inquired (with the Army), they informed me that the proper communication has been made with the state government. Originally the Army was supposed to conduct that exercise on November 28, 29 and 30, but since 'Bharat Bandh' was declared on November 28, we were requested to shift it to December 1 and 2," he added.
"I can understand the grief (she suffered) due to demonetisation but why should Army be involved in politics. You will never find Army involved in politics. That day I witnessed what is political frustration," the former Goa CM said.
On December 1, presence of Army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal triggered a row with Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an "Army coup", drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her "political frustration".
She had accused the Centre of creating a situation 'worse than Emergency'.
However, refuting her allegations Northern Command had said that Army taking over toll plaza in Kolkata was incorrect.
They had tweeted:
Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect @adgpi
— EasternCommand_IA (@easterncomd) December 1, 2016
(With Agency inputs)