LUCKNOW: A Durga puja committee in Lucknow has based its pandal theme on the Rafale aircraft and said it wishes the goddess to clear hurdles in getting the aircraft to the country.
"We are using four cutouts of Rafale aircraft in the pandal and using it as our theme for this Durga puja. We want 'Maa Durga' to make our Indian Air Force (IAF) powerful and in clearing all the hurdles in getting the aircraft," Nihar Ranjan Dey, media secretary of the Cantonment Durga puja committee.
"With her blessings, upgradation and modernisation of the existing inventory of aircraft and weapon systems will happen. Also, the country will get Rafale," he said.
Two cutouts of the fighter aircraft will be put at selfie points and other two will be placed near the goddess' mandap, he said.
"We are not getting into controversies surrounding the deal. We want our citizens, jawans and borders to be safe and Rafale will certainly strengthen us," Dey said.
The organisers of the committee, established in 1952, are hopeful that the Rafale-themed pandal will be a great attraction as nobody has thought on these lines.
"Our committee always use patriotic themes. Last year, we had given pandal the theme of our national flag. The purpose was to instill the feeling of patriotism among the masses," Dey said, adding that this year, another attraction will be the 'char dham darshan' theme at the pandal.
Electricians from West Bengal will be creating the set-up and will use LED lights.
"Last year too, we had replicated France's iconic Eiffel Tower (55ft)," Dey said, adding that the pandal will open for the public from Tuesday.
India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019
The Congress recently raised several questions about the deal, including the rates, and accused the government of compromising national interest and security while promoting "crony capitalism" and causing a loss to the public exchequer.
However, the government has vehemently denied the charges.
Other Durga puja committees here are also experimenting with different and unique pandal themes.
Bondhu Mahal, a social organisation here, has taken up the theme of Kumbh 2019 with a slogan "Kumbh Chalo".
"Next January, Uttar Pradesh will witness one of the biggest global events called Kumbh Mela in Prayag (Allahabad), which is described by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.