<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the army has been deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday dubbed it as a ‘cheap political stunt’ done to defame the government and drag the army into an ‘unnecessary controversy’. Talking to the media, Naidu said it is a mischievous and a dirty campaign launched by some political opponents about a routine army drill in different states of the country. ‘This is an ongoing exercise, collecting data in all the north-eastern states, including Assam, Arunachal, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. This is by eastern command of the army….this is an annual exercise carried out every year. In the same location, and in the same state, last year the exercise was carried out between 19 and 21 November,’ he said.‘Similar exercise is being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar from 26 October to November 1 under the south western command……… It is a cheap political stunt to defame the govt & drag army into unnecessary controversy with does not exist,’ he added. Launching attack at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘TRP politics’ comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said the grand old party is themselves doing politics as they are becoming ‘irrelevant’. ‘What is TRP’ You people are doing TRPs because you are becoming irrelevant. People have rejected your Bandh call, they have rejected your Akhrosh rally, you are divided badly, you don’t have a common strategy, you have n argument to put forth to the country. That is why you are not allowing the house,’ he added.He said that the Congress Party is held band upon committing contempt of democracy. ‘The Prime Minister is the darling of the masses. He has taken a historic and a bold decision, the entire world is appreciating his movement towards digital transfer….they are making unnecessary absurd allegation. The congress is not constructive they are obstructive,’ he added.Army reject Mamata’s claims Army strongly rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s 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 Kolkata Police. “This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav.Reacting to the Chief Minister’s allegations he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.” “Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” the officiating GOC Bengal Area said.Mamata had yesterday alleged that the army had been deployed without informing the state government. “This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.She had also claimed that the army personnel were collecting money from vehicles, which they were not supposed to. Maj Gen Yadav said a similar exercise in Eastern Command was carried out in November 2015 at the same places. The Maj Gen said that a recce was conducted with two inspectors of the Kolkata Police at toll plaza on November 27 last.”The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said. The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight, he said.Army tonight said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police. “Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.”Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]″, it said. Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem. “Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a twitter message tonight.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”. She further said “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country”. Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts bi-ennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.With inputs from agencies

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Cheap political stunt to defame Govt and Indian Army: BJP hits back at Mamata Banerjee