After night at secretariat, Mamata stays put at Nabanna
Kolkata, Dec 2: After spending the night at the secretariat, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stayed put there on Friday demanding “withdrawal of the army” from the state and alleging it has been done by keeping her government “in the dark”.
Accusing the central government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district, Banerjee had said she would not leave till the army was withdrawn from there.
“I’ll keep vigil to protect the democracy, to protect my democratically elected government,” she said.
Shortly after midnight, the Eastern Command said the army has been asked to withdraw from the toll plaza near Nabanna as it had already collected the data it required.
Past 2 a.m., Banerjee — holding her third round of media conference since the evening — reiterated she would spend the night at Nabanna, fearing the army may be back.
“The army has withdrawn from the second Hooghly Bridge after 2 a.m. They will definitely come back. After Nabanna, they have entered various districts. The army has been deployed in 80 per cent of the areas,” she said.
“I’ll remain awake all night to keep vigil. I will spend the night at Nabanna,” she said.
In the morning, Banerjee held parleys with senior police officers and bureaucrats on the issue.
Trinamool Congress sources said a pen-drive containing videos of the army activities at the second Hooghly bridge toll plaza has been forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee.
The riveting drama unfolded on Thursday evening, when Banerjee alleged the army has been deployed at the Dankuni and Palsit toll plazas on National Highway 2 (connecting Delhi and Kolkata) without informing the state government.
Banerjee said the Chief Secretary was writing to the central government and that she would approach Mukherjee seeking clarification on the issue.
The Defence Ministry said the army was conducting routine exercise with full knowledge of and co-ordination with West Bengal police.