Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on March 27 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”.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, he said when India had test-fired the Agni-V missile in April 2012, then DRDO chief VK Saraswat had said that India could now develop an anti-satellite missile but the government had not given its nod.

Targeting the Congress, he said those patting their own back for India’s strategic missile programme were doing so for wrong reasons.

“If they want to rectify the Balakot (air strike) mistake, it is the opportunity for the opposition to do so and stand in support of our scientists,” he said, referring to the air strike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for carrying out ‘Mission Shakti’ successfully, but wished Prime Minister Narendra Modi a happy ‘World Theatre Day.’

“Well done DRDO, extremely proud of your work. I would also like to wish the PM a very happy World Theatre Day,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted. March 27 is celebrated as the World Theatre Day.

“Research, space management, and development are a continuous process over the years. Modi, as usual, likes to take the credit for everything. Credit to those who really deserve it, our scientists and researchers,” Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.

Banerjee also accused Prime Minister Modi of grossly violating the Model Code of Conduct.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav too attacked Prime Minister Modi and said that he got himself an hour to divert nation’s attention from real issues.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said that it was the UPA government who had initiated the A-SAT programme.

“The UPA government had initiated the A-SAT programme which has reached fruition today. I congratulate our space scientists and the visionary leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh,” he tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday 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 superpowers along with US, Russia, and China.

In the operation, the indigenously-built anti-satellite ASAT missile successfully destroyed a target satellite in the Low Earth Orbit (LWO), the PM announced.

Though the message was clear to all of India’s adversaries, the PM assured the global community that the technology will not be used “against anyone”.

“This (technology) is to strengthen the defence of a fast-growing India. This test does not violate any international law or treaty. We are against arms race in space,” the PM stressed.

“Our objective is to ensure the security of the 130 crore people of our country. Thus a powerful India is necessary for peace. We do not intend to create an atmosphere of war,” he added.

(With agency inputs)