NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has snubbed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), when it requested Narendra Modi to inaugurate an exhibition planned at Peikarumbu, near the memorial of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam that would be opened on Thursday.
With most of the DRDO projects, ranging from Tejas light combat aircraft to long range surface-to-air missile systems, repeatedly missing deadlines and facing huge cost overruns, Modi’s outright rejection to inaugurate an exhibition at the venue of the memorial of a former DRDO is seen as his attempt to distance from the white elephant (DRDO), which often faced criticism. In fact, during his first interaction with DRDO scientists, Modi had sent a stern message to the agency for their ‘Chalta hai’ (lackadaisical) attitude.
The DRDO had planned an exhibition of its products with the theme ‘Science for Soldier and Society’ alongside the PM’s event, adjacent to Kalam’s memorial. Top scientists from its nearly 30 laboratories were engaged for this by the DRDO’s headquarters and its Bengaluru-based lab Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL) was made event coordinator.
But much to their chagrin, the PMO not only turned down the request to ope the exhibition, but also denied permission to hold mega event close to the memorial. “Special Protection Group, the agency responsible for PM’s security, has refused permission for the exhibition adjacent to the venue,” said a top official.
Left with no options, the DRDO has moved the exhibition to Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, one of its labs functioning at Avadi in Chennai. DRDO chief S Christopher will inaugurate it on Friday.
When contacted, DRDO spokesperson Manish Bhardwaj refused to divulge the details. “Shifting of the venue happened due to space constraints,” Bhardwaj said.
According to a statement issued by the PMO on Wednesday, Modi will inaugurate Kalam’s memorial on Thursday morning and later flag off ‘Kalam Sandesh Vahini’, an exhibition bus which would travel across various states to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 15, the birth anniversary of the Kalam.
The PMO also stated that Prime Minister will then proceed to Mandapam for the public meeting, where he will distribute sanction letters to the beneficiaries of longliner trawlers under the Blue Revolution Scheme. He will also flag off a new Express train from Ayodhya to Rameswaram via videoconferencing. Modi will release a synopsis of the Green Rameswaram Project and will unveil a plaque to mark the dedication to the nation of the 9.5 km Link Road on NH 87, which runs between Mukundarayar Chathiram and Arichalmunai. Modi will conclude his visit by addressing a public meeting.