Bengaluru: The BJP’s statewide yatra led by BS Yeddyurappa to “expose” the JDS – Congress alliance in the state has run into rough weather after the ruling combine started attacking it over plans to shift the Aero India International Show from Bengaluru to Lucknow ahead of the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
The BJP’s blistering attack on the “failures” of HD Kumaraswamy government have been blunted by the controversy.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who kicked off the party’s Lok Sabha campaign from Bidar on Monday, said the state BJP is making baseless allegations against the JDS-Congress government and at the same time, the BJP-run Centre is shifting Aero India show from Bengaluru to Lucknow for political reasons.
“The same BJP has deprived the premier aeronautics centre Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru the Rafael deal. It has given the contract to a private firm denying the opportunity to public sector HAL. The HAL has made India proud. The BJP government at the Centre is following anti-Karnataka policies,” he told supporters.
Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has also expressed anguish over plans to shift Aero India from Bengaluru. Speaking to News18 he said, “The Modi government is shifting Aero India to Lucknow purely for political reasons. We oppose such a move because Bengaluru is pioneer in the field of aeronautical sciences. It also has the largest airbase to conduct an international event like Aero India. If the Centre goes ahead with the shifting, people of Karnataka will teach BJP a fitting lesson."
Aero India is a biennial international air show and aviation exhibition held at the Yelahanka Airforce Station in Bengaluru. It is organized by the ministry of defence and the HAL is a partner in it.
Bengaluru has so far hosted 11 Aero India shows since 1996. The 11th edition saw participation from a total of 549 companies (270 Indian and 279 Foreign), 72 participating aircraft, covering an area of 27,678 SQ miles. Over 51 different countries had participated in it.
Additionally, Bengaluru has emerged as the aerospace capital of India with a strong defence vendor base created by public sector units such as HAL, BEL, BEML and ISRO. Also. Boeing and Airbus are anchor investors in the Aerospace Park located near Bengaluru International Airport.
State Congress president Dinesh Gundurao has squarely blamed defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, for this “grave injustice” to Karnataka.
In a tweet he said “Well done @nsitharaman ji. You’ve served Karnataka well for electing you to RS. In the #RafaleScam our HAL was sidelined to help a private individual & now Bengaluru’s pride, the #AeroShow is being shifted to Lucknow. Keep up the good work.”
Well done @nsitharaman ji. You’ve served Karnataka well for electing you to RS.In the #RafaleScam our HAL was sidelined to help a privte individual & now Bengaluru’s pride, the #AeroShow is being shifted to Lucknow.Keep up the good work.👏 https://t.co/MAo0QPEEfD— Dinesh Gundu Rao (@dineshgrao) August 11, 2018
The state BJP leadership has claimed it will not allow the Centre to shift Aero India from Bengaluru to any other place. Speaking to News18, Yeddyurappa said Aero India would not be shifted to Lucknow and the Congress was spreading lies. “Aero India will happen in Bengaluru as usual. Let there be no doubt” he said.
Union minister of programme implementation and statistics, DV Sadananda Gowda, said he would be travelling to New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Several Kannada organisations have already launched an online campaign against shifting of the prestigious show from Bengaluru. Earlier, Manohar Parrikar as Defence minister had tried to shift Aero India to his state Goa from Bengaluru. But Karnataka had successfully thwarted that attempt.