Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday while giving his first 2019 election interview to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami addressed a plethora of issues ranging from voter-centric polls to stable governance. While speaking on the critical topic of national security, the Prime Minister also spoke about the tremendous Anti Satellite (A-SAT) operation, codenamed 'Mission Shakti', that destroyed a live Low-Earth Orbit satellite making India just the fourth country to prove such a capability.
In terms of 'Mission Shakti', the Prime Minister specifically dismissed the Opposition's criticism on the mission's timing by asking: "Should the government not respond to critical issues because of elections?"
"When you get time as per the global community's convenience, you need to utilise your time in that period. For us, this was the time allotted. This is not a thing that you think about and then execute and then some problem arises. It doesn't happen that way. These things have to be done as soon as possible".
"As far as rules of the election commission are concerned, say, for example, there's a natural calamity somewhere, should the government not do anything saying that code of conduct is in place and I can't do anything? Such a thing cannot happen. On many occassions, it so happened, that despite election commission code of conduct being in place, budget session of many states are still underway. Budgets are coming in, speeches are being made. Everything is happening", he added.
To emphasise his point, the Prime Minister went on to narrate a story he had heard when he was young
"In the past, elections happened during 15th August and 26th January. Code of conduct was in place. At every level, politicians who were in government gave speeches. People seem to be unaware of it. When I was young, I heard this joke. Thieves came to a policeman's house, he was sleeping, his wife woke up. She saw thieves looting their place by picking up their things. The wife thought, everything will be stolen, so she started waking her husband up and said thieves are here. The husband said 'I am not on duty'. Do such things happen?"
A number of Opposition leaders had mounted criticisms following the 'Mission Shakti' announcement, with Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav leading the charge.