West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday likened the Army presence in the state to an attempted “military coup”. She accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre of “harassing people for political gains”.
“I am vocal against demonetisation and thus this coup... Why aren’t they doing this elsewhere. They are saying Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, who have crosschecked their claims,” Banerjee told The Indian Express. She added that Manipur and Nagaland are “troubled places” and that the Army was already there, while Assam was ruled by a BJP government. “So who knows what the truth is,” she added.
Banerjee also said she had great respect for the Army, but the ruling party was using them for political motives. The chief minister said Army troops have been deployed in all districts except for south 24 Parganas, with the aim to disrupt governance. She also refused to leave the secretariat building till Army personnel were called off, reported Hindustan Times. She said the situation was “worse than Emergency”.
The Army, on its part, has said that the stationing of personnel was part of “routine exercise”. “Routine exercise in all NE states. In Assam @ 18 places, Arunanchal@13, WB@19, Manipur@6, Nagaland@5, Meghalaya@5, Tripura & Mizoram@1@adgpi,” the Army said on Twitter.
However, the West Bengal government refuted the Army’s claim citing “security” and “traffic”. The administration also said that no contact was made with the government about deploying Army at two toll plazas in the state.
Earlier on Thursday, leaders from her Trinamool Congress party had claimed that a flight carrying the chief minister on Wednesday was delayed and made to hover over Kolkata airport for 30 minutes because of an alleged plot to kill her. The airline concerned, IndiGo, has denied the allegations that the flight was low on fuel during the delay. The party leaders had earlier said Banerjee was targeted because of her opposition to the Centre’s move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.