BENGALURU: With only six months left for the 2019 edition of the flagship Aero India event, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the venue for the event was yet to be finalised, thus fuelling further speculation over the Union government’s proposal to move the biennial air show from the city.
Responding to questions during a media briefing here, she said details about the venue had not been finalised yet, something that has left many experts flabbergasted as normal preparations for the event — which sees global participation — begin at least a year ahead. Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that many states had approached the government to host the premier event and said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will take a call on this and announce the dates and the venue soon.
The New Indian Express had recently reported that the MoD is likely to shift the venue of the 12th edition of Aero India to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. When pointed out that Aero India dates are generally announced at the end of the previous show, she said, “I am aware of when we are supposed to announce the dates. A notice regarding the event will be given well in time so that delegates from within the country and different parts of the world can participate.”
Aero India, besides Indian participation, also sees flight crews, aerobatics performers and delegates from various countries descend on the city. On the tradition of Bengaluru having been the home of Aero India for all 11 editions, she negated the same by citing the example of the MoD’s other event, the Defence Expo, which was held 10 consecutive times in Delhi before being moved to Goa and recently to Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, addressing reporters along with the Defence Minister, said the state government too has requested MoD to continue the show in Bengaluru and was hopeful that it will be retained in the city.
To a question on Chinese presence in Doklam and subsequent buildup of their forces, she refused to comment stating that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had already responded to the same in Parliament. On whether the Rafale deal will hurt the ‘Make in India’ scheme and the prospects of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), she refused to respond saying, “Parliament is in session.”