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10 Dec 2016

Didi, Parrikar lock horns

TT, Dec. 9: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today locked horns with defence minister Manohar Parikkar over the deployment of the army in several toll plazas across the state.
Hours after Parikkar wrote to Mamata expressing "deep pain" over her allegations regarding the deployment of the army, the chief minister shot back, saying the Centre, and not the army, was the target of her attack.
"My complaint was not against the army. It was against your government and the government policy as they (the army) act under your directions. In my long political and administrative life, I have never seen such political vendetta by misusing the role of an esteemed organisation," she wrote to Parikkar.
Senior Trinamul leaders said Mamata was "very displeased" with Parrikar's move. The defence minister's letter was made public even before it was sent to her, a move Mamata described as a "politically motivated ploy".
"I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces," the chief minister wrote.
Mamata had stayed for around 30 hours at the state secretariat "to protect our democracy" in protest against the deployment of the army in toll plazas earlier this month. She had alleged that the Centre did not inform her before deploying the force. The army said it was a routine exercise.
In his letter, Parrikar had stated that political parties and leaders had the "luxury" of making "wild and unsubstantiated" allegations against each other but they should exercise caution while referring to the armed forces.
"I do not think that it behoves of a minister of the Union government to pass near-defamatory remarks on a chief minister of any state and I trust that you will rectify this attitude," she added.
Earlier in the day, Mamata continued with her attack on the Modi government over demonetisation and accused it of not allowing the Opposition to speak in Parliament.
"Why did the government not allow the Opposition to speak?" she asked on Twitter.
"This is most unfortunate," Mamata added.

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