New Delhi: Even as the nation revelled in the accomplishment of Mission Shakti on Wednesday, former chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation came out in support of the Centre’s claim that India could have achieved the status of a space superpower a few years earlier had then Government supported the project. (Also read: What is Mission Shakti)

Speaking to ANI, former DRDO chief Dr V K Saraswat said, “We made presentations to National Security Adviser (NSA), National Security Council. When such discussions were held, they were heard by all concerned. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a positive response (from UPA), so we didn’t go ahead.”

Saraswat’s comments confirmed what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said a while back. Jaitley had said that India had the capability in 2012, at the time of successful launch of Agni V, but the then Government didn’t approve it.

Meanwhile, Saraswat added, “When the proposal was put up by Dr Satheesh Reddy and NSA Ajit Doval to PM Modi, he had the courage and based on that, he gave a go-ahead. If the clearances were given in 2012-13, I’m quite certain that the launch would have happened in 2014-15.”

This also shatters the Congress claim of the mission beginning in the UPA regime under Dr Manmohan Singh.

At the same time, many Opposition leaders have questioned the timing of the announcement. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Well done DRDO, extremely proud of your work. I would also like to wish the PM a very happy World Theatre Day.”

Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also attacked PM Modi and accused him of reaping political benefits at the time of elections. “Today’s announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election. This is a gross violation of Model Code of Conduct,” she said.