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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 09 December: CHIEF Minister Mamata Banerjee has very strongly reacted to Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s letter in relation to the recent fiasco over Army deployment at toll plazas in Bengal saying that his attitude does not behove a Union minster and that he should rectify the same.

Banerjee shot off a two-page reply to Parrikar from Nabanna this evening, an unsigned copy of which has been informally made available to news persons who cover the state secretariat.

This is in response to the Union defence minister’s letter dated 08 December, which reached the Chief Minister today afternoon.

In that communique, referring to Banerjee’s public posturing against the deployment of Army personnel at toll plazas to collect data on goods vehicle, Parrikar wrote:    “Your allegations run the risk of adversely impacting the moral of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life.”

He further added: “Political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other but one needs to be extremely careful while referring to our armed forces,” and maintained that “The Army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence…”

Reacting to the missive in very strongly worded words, the Bengal CM has emphasised that she has “great respect for their nationalism and professionalism” of the Army and that her complaint was not against the Army.

“It was against your government and the government policy, as they act under your directions. During my long political and administrative life, I have never seen such political vendetta by misusing the rule of an esteemed organisation,” she has written.

Banerjee further adds: “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the right of the state government vis-à-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces. You have also, in the last paragraph chosen to convey the laughable idea that you are the sole spokesperson on behalf of the people at large.”

Not stopping at this, she went a step further to write: “I do not think that it behoves 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.”

In the same vein, Banerjee observes: “Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making ‘wild and unsubstantiated’ allegations may be apt for your party but we do not belong to that group.”

In the concluding paragraph, the Chief Minister has requested Parrikar to ensure that before undertaking any large-scale exercise in the civilian area in Bengal, defence ministry officials communicate at the highest level of the state government and written clearance should be invariably obtained in advance.

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