Lucknow: In an embarrassment for the Yogi Adityanath government, its posters welcoming delegates to the five-day DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow feature as a ‘Make in India’ showcase a helicopter that Turkey has made for its close ally Pakistan.
The Uttar Pradesh capital is hosting India’s biennial defence exhibition starting Wednesday.
The pictures are of the T-129 two-seater attack helicopter — manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in collaboration with Italian-British AgustaWestland. To make matters worse for the UP government, the helicopter in the picture even has a Turkish flag on it.
Oh come on. pic.twitter.com/VO8wuhhqOL
— Angad Singh (@zone5aviation) February 4, 2020
Asked about the gaffe, an official said on condition of anonymity, “The poster has not been put by the Ministry of Defence but by the UP government.”
Lucknow, which is the constituency of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, is set to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Union ministers, CEOs of defence companies, diplomats, among others, for the event.
T-129 choppers and Pakistan
In response to India’s purchase of the Apache attack helicopters from the US, Pakistan had signed a $1.5-billion contract with Turkey in 2018 for buying 30 T-129 choppers.
However, the deal flew into rough weather after the US refused to give a technology export licence to Turkey for the sale to Islamabad. Since the engines of the choppers are jointly manufactured by the US firm Honeywell and British company Rolls-Royce, US’ permission was needed for the helicopter to be exported to a third country.
The Turkish government has now tasked Tusas Engine Industries, TAI’s sister company, with developing an indigenous engine for the T-129, Defence News said in a report last month.
India and Turkey’s relations have nosedived over the Kashmir issue since the Modi government scrapped Article 370 in August and bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. Turkey has issued multiple statements criticising the move.
Tent city — bathrooms have nails on floor but no hot water
The Uttar Pradesh government’s embarrassment at the DefExpo didn’t end at the chopper blunder.
Its much-publicised tent city, set up to cater to the large number of visitors to Lucknow, also proved to be a flop Tuesday. Several visitors, including foreign diplomats, are facing issues at the temporary city, where prices for tents were initially kept at over Rs 20,000 per night.
“Despite paying such high cost, hot water is supplied for specific hours. And yesterday, there was no hot water in the morning during the specified hours,” a diplomat staying at the tent city told ThePrint Wednesday.
Another foreign visitor said he had a narrow escape from a nail protruding from the bathroom floor in his VIP tent.
“The MoD was very keen that we take the tent city and that is exactly what we have done. We were told it would be a Kumbh experience but has not been any good experience at all,” said a second diplomat who didn’t wish to be named.
The Adityanath government came up with the tent city due to the limited number of hotels in Lucknow to cater to thousands of diplomats, officials and top executives of defence firms.