Am the voice of my conscience, Tripathi tells Mamata

Kolkata, Dec 4 (IANS) West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi, responding to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s accusation that he was “speaking in the voice of Central Government” in criticising her for opposing the army presence at toll plazas, on Sunday said he was only articulating the “voice of my conscience”.

“I am the voice of my conscience,” Tripathi told media persons here, but refused to comment any further.

Tripathi on Saturday sternly cautioned against “defaming” and “letting down” the Indian Army in the wake of Banerjee alleging that soldiers extorted money from truck drivers during their deployment at toll plazas.

Asked about Banerjee’s accusation that the soldiers extorted money from truck drivers, Tripathi had said: “Every person should take care in making allegation against a responsible organisation like the Indian Army. Don’t let down the army. Don’t defame the army.”

Banerjee, however, strongly reacted to the governor’s remarks.

The Governor is speaking in the voice of Central Government!! He was not in the city for about 8 days,” she tweeted on Saturday.

Terming the Governor’s comments as “unfortunate”, Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, said Tripathi should have checked the details of recent developments in the state before commenting.

“Before making statements, all details should have been checked. It is very unfortunate,” said Banerjee, who spent Thursday night at the state secretariat and stayed put for 30 hours protesting deployment of the army at toll plazas in the state allegedly without informing her government — an issue that snowballed into a major row causing disruptions in Parliament.

The central government and the army rubbished the allegations, saying too much was being read into a routine exercise.

In the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the army was conducting a routine exercise in Kolkata. The Eastern Command showed papers detailing the correspondence between the army and the local police on the issue and said the state government and the police knew about it in advance.