Don't defame troops, says Bengal Governor; it's Centre's voice speaking: Mamata Banerjee

The governor was in Delhi when the entire episode of Ms Banerjee staying at Nabanna to protest against the Army's deployment.

Kolkata: A war of words erupted between governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and chief minister Mamata Banerjee after he disapproved of her remarks on the deployment of the Army at toll plazas, saying one should exercise caution while levelling allegations against a responsible organisation like the armed force.

“Every person should be careful while making allegations against a responsible organisation like the Army... Do not let down the Army. Do not defame the Army,” Mr Tripathi told reporters.

Launching a counter-attack, Ms Banerjee termed his statement as “unfortunate”. “The governor is speaking in the voice of the Central Government! He was not in the city for about 8 days,” she said in a tweet soon after learning of the governor’s remark. “Before making statements, all details should have been checked. It is very unfortunate,” she said in a statement.

The governor was in Delhi when the entire episode of Ms Banerjee staying at Nabanna to protest against the Army’s deployment unfolded on Friday.

Later in the day, Trinamul Congress legislators and ministers, who had Friday staged a protest outside the Raj Bhavan, again went to meet the governor and also submitted a memorandum protesting “the Centre’s role in the matter and the way the Army was being misused”.

A delegation, led by education minister Partha Chatterjee, met Mr Tripathi and conveyed their dismay over his remark. “I asked him how he could make such a statement when he was not even present in the city,” Mr Chatterjee said and went on to allege that the governor was “perhaps… representing a particular political party”.

“It is unbecoming of a governor to make such a statement. We never made any remarks on our governor, but we are very sad to make this comment today. People might assume that the governor is speaking as the representative of a particular political party,” he said.

The minister said he informed the governor that the Centre had deployed Army at 18 places in the state. “We are surprised that when we are raising our voice against the Centre’s attempt at subverting the federal structure, both the Centre and the governor are playing this dirty game of using Army as a shield to cover their intentions,” Mr Chatterjee said.

An unperturbed Mr Tripathi said he stood by his statement and will do his duty. “I stick to whatever I have said. Let them say whatever they feel. It does not affect me. I will do my duty. Army should not be politicised or criticised,” the governor said.

The presence of Army personnel at toll plazas had triggered a row with Ms Banerjee questioning if it was an “Army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre, which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.

Ms Banerjee had claimed that the Army personnel were taking money from the vehicles. The Army had rebutted her allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with the city police.

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