Opposition parties slam Narendra Modi over Mission Shakti announcement; TMC, CPM allege MCC violation

New Delhi: Opposition leaders on Wednesday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of indulging in theatrics and "playing politics" over scientists' achievements following his address to the nation announcing successful test of an anti-satellite missile, while some parties complained to the Election Commission alleging violation of the model code.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at Modi wishing him "happy World Theatre Day" even as he congratulated the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

Other Congress leaders credited successive governments led by their party for the achievement. "The UPA government had initiated the A-SAT programme which has reached fruition today. I congratulate our space scientists and the visionary leadership of Manmohan Singh," senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted.

 Opposition parties slam Narendra Modi over Mission Shakti announcement; TMC, CPM allege MCC violation

File image of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. PTI

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that Modi's announcement was "limitless drama and publicity mongering", amounting to "gross violation" of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). She also accused the Prime Minister of making the announcement to "reap political benefits" and said her party will move the Election Commission.

Speaking in the same vein, allies BSP and Samajwadi Party alleged it was a diversionary tactic, while the CPM lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, terming the prime minister's action as a "violation" of the MCC.

However, sources in the Election Commission said Wednesday that issues related to national security and disaster management do not fall under the ambit of the MCC.

"There is no great urgency in conducting and announcing the mission now by a government past its expiry date. It seems a desperate oxygen to save the imminent sinking of the BJP boat. We are lodging a complaint with the Election Commission," the TMC supremo said.

"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," Banerjee tweeted.

Pointing out that research, space management and development "are continuous processes", Banerjee said, "Modi, as usual, likes to take the credit for everything. Credit (belongs) to those who really deserve it, our scientists and researchers."

In a complaint to the Election Commission, CPM general-secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote a letter to the poll panel, asking it why Modi was allowed to "politically colour" the achievements of Indian scientists in the midst of polls.

"Such a mission should normally be announced to the nation and to the world by the relevant scientific authorities like the DRDO. Instead, the Indian prime minister has taken the route of an address to the nation in making this announcement," Yechury said.

"This announcement comes in the midst of the ongoing election campaign where the prime minister himself is a candidate. This is clearly a violation of the MCC," he added.

BSP supremo Mayawati accused Modi of playing politics over India's anti-satellite missile capability. "Congratulations to Indian defence scientists for the successful experiment of shooting down a satellite in the space. But the prime minister playing politics under its garb for electoral gains is most condemnable," she said in her tweet in Hindi.

"The honourable Election Commission should definitely take cognizance of this," Mayawati said on Twitter.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said Modi got himself an hour of free television space and diverted nation's attention away from issues on the ground. "Today, Modi got himself an hour of free TV and divert(ed) nation's attention away from issues on ground unemployment, rural crisis, and women's security by pointing at the sky," he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Modi announced that India had demonstrated anti-satellite missile capability by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space super powers.

"In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today," Modi said in an unprecedented broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media.

His address came as campaigning intensifies for Lok Sabha elections that start on 11 April.

Launching a counter attack, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the erstwhile UPA government of not granting scientists permission to build the country's own anti-satellite missile, saying it lacked "capability and clarity".

BJP chief Amit Shah, too, hit back at the Opposition parties, saying "the anti-satellite missile was successfully tested in space but it seems a few people on Earth have also got hurt" and alleged that the "UPA did not have the courage to back its institutions and people", while the "NDA under PM Modi has shown the conviction to do so".

At the AICC briefing, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said such achievements are not new for the DRDO. "So these are the achievements of our scientists, obviously they have the support of every government," he said and alleged that Modi wants to "shut down Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which works in tandem with DRDO".

Updated Date: Mar 27, 2019 18:47:27 IST