President of Karnataka Congress DK Shivakumar, along with the party affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI), staged what the party called a symbolic protest in front of the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) office in Bengaluru on Wednesday, December 1. The protest, the Congress said, was against any move to shift the Indian Human Space Flight programme of the space agency from Bengaluru to Gujarat and called it a matter of State's pride.
DK Shivakumar had recently written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai opposing any such move amid reports of such a plan being under consideration of the Central government. NSUI members shouted slogans, held placards and posters which read "Stop Shifting ISRO to Gujarat," and "Stop Privatisation."
Speaking to reporters, Shivakumar said the human space flight programme should not be shifted out of the State for any reason.
"It is a matter of Karnataka's pride; they (Union government) are planning to shift the Human Space Flight programme out of Bengaluru, it should not happen. Let them start any other new project or programme there in Gujarat, but it is not right to shift the programme that began and is running here," he said.
"It (the move to shift) is purely political to please the bosses from Gujarat. They first wanted to shift the airshow out of Bengaluru, but withdrew only after Kannadigas protested...what is the scientific reason behind the plan to shift the programme from Bengaluru," he asked.
Also alleging attempts to privatise important national agencies and assets, the KPCC chief said ISRO should not get included in the list of organisations that have been sold to private hands after airlines, hotel and public sector companies, among others. He urged the Union government to come clear on the issue.
Launched in 2007 by ISRO, the Indian Human Space Flight programme is aimed at development of technology needed to launch crewed orbital spacecraft into low earth orbit.