New Delhi: India established its place in the elite club of space powers as it successfully tested an anti-satellite missile or A-SAT in the Low Earth Orbit, under Mission Shakti. India is now the fourth country to have tested an anti-satellite weapon after the US, Russia and China. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the same on Wednesday, little would he have known what a storm it would kick up.

PM Modi asserted that India’s action was not directed against any country and that it was a test of the country’s capability.

PM’s address under EC scanner:

Following PM Modi’s address on Mission Shakti, the Election Commission of India (ECI) directed a Committee of Officers to examine the matter in the light of the Model Code of Conduct. The EC ordered an immediate examination after the issue was brought to the notice of the poll body.

In a statement, the Election Commission said, “The matter related to the address of the prime minister to the nation on electronic media today afternoon (March 27) has been brought to the notice of the Election Commission of India. The Commission has directed a committee of officers to examine the matter immediately in the light of model code of conduct.”

The EC’s announcement came after the CPI(M) submitted a written complaint about PM Modi’s address. The letter stated that since the PM’s announcement came in the midst of the ongoing election campaign where Modi himself is a candidate, it is clearly a violation of the model code of conduct.

Opposition Attacks:

The Opposition did not hold back and attacked PM Modi soon after his address. Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to micro-blogging site Twitter to say, “Well done DRDO, extremely proud of your work. I would also like to wish the PM a very happy World Theatre Day.”

He also took a swipe at the PM by questioning the timing of the announcement. Meanwhile, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member, Ahmed Patel said that the UPA government had initiated the A-SAT program which has reached fruition today and congratulated former PM Dr Manmohan Singh for the same. “I congratulate our space scientists and the visionary leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Even West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee termed the announcement on Mission Shakti a gross violation of the model code of conduct. She had said there was no great urgency of announcing the mission by ‘a government past its expiry date’.

Addressing the media, she said, “What was the need for Modi at the time of election to violate the model code of conduct to take the credit? Does he work there? Is he going to space?”

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also attacked PM Modi and accused him of trying to divert attention from other issues plaguing the society, such as unemployment, rural crisis and women security. He, however, congratulated both DRDO and ISRO and thanked both the organisations for making India safer.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah targeted the government after the announcement stating, “Mountains and molehills spring to mind!”

BJP’s Reaction:

After the Opposition hit out at PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah retweeted Rahul’s tweet and wrote, “Thus speaks the inheritor of the dynasty that thinks – All the nation’s a stage! For them: Sacrifices of soldiers – drama, Success of scientists – drama, Masquerading as leaders, all that ‘The Dynasty’ has done is to plunder, weaken and ruin the nation.”

Thus speaks the inheritor of the dynasty that thinks – All the nation’s a stage!

For them:

Sacrifices of soldiers – drama

Success of scientists – drama

Masquerading as leaders, all that ‘The Dynasty’ has done is to plunder, weaken and ruin the nation.

Prior to Shah taking a fierce stand, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a sharp attack on the Congress party saying had the previous UPA Government approved the Mission Shakti, Indian scientists would have accomplished the same feat a decade back. Backing his claim with an example, Jaitley cited a 2012 newspaper report which quoted a senior scientist as saying after the successful launch of Agni V that India then had the capability to develop an anti-satellite missile.

Jaitley said the process began in 2014 and PM Narendra Modi deserves credit for the same.