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Aug 27 – Narendra Modi arrived in the city early Saturday from Greece to congratulate Isro scientists who soft-landed Chandrayaan-3 on the moon three days earlier, as the BJP turned the daybreak visit into a spectacle, with thousands of party workers and state leaders lining up to greet the Prime Minister, whose final leg of his journey was converted into a roadshow.
The Prime Minister, speaking to scientists at the Isro Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network in the Peenya Industrial Area, called the site where Chandrayaan-3 landed Shiv Shakti Point and Tiranga, the site where Chandrayaan-2 crashed-landed in 2019. He declared August 23 to be National Space Day in order to honour the moon landing of the Vikram lander module.
However, the Prime Minister’s brief visit to meet the Isro scientists, which was preceded by a 2km roadshow on his way to Istrac during which he stood on the footboard of a car and greeted people lining the roads with national flags, was not without controversy, as neither chief minister Siddaramaiah nor his deputy D.K. Shivakumar were present to greet him when the special flight carrying him landed around 6am.
In a brief address to party members outside the airport, Modi stated that he had requested that the chief minister and his deputy avoid the difficulty of arriving at the airport so early in the morning. “I had requested the honourable chief minister, deputy chief minister and the governor not to take the trouble of being at the airport so early in the morning for the sake of protocol,” Modi said.
“Since I had to come from so far away, and there could be a delay of a few minutes, I had requested the honourable chief minister, deputy chief minister and the governor not to take the trouble of coming so early in the morning,” he added.
“So I suggested that the chief minister and deputy chief minister can follow the protocol when I come next. I am grateful for their cooperation,” the Prime Minister
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh had a different story. “He (Modi) is apparently so irritated with the CM and Deputy CM of Karnataka for felicitating the scientists of ISRO before him that he has purportedly barred the CM from receiving him at the airport, going against protocol. This is nothing but petulant petty politics,” Ramesh wrote on X late on Friday.
Both Siddaramiah and Shivakumar had visited Istrac individually after the moon landing to meet the scientists, and they had also praised the success by running full-page advertisements in many English and Kannada dailies.
“Has PM Modi forgotten CM Modi’s visit to the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad on 22nd Oct, 2008, just after the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-I at a time when Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister?” Ramesh asked.
Shivakumar, on the other hand, played it down, stating that if it hadn’t been for the PMO communication, he and the chief minister would have received the Prime Minister. “We wanted to respect him because we had information from the Prime Minister’s Office.” We don’t want to get involved in politics. Political games have ended. “Right now, we’re focused on development,” he told reporters after BJP leader R. Ashok questioned their absence from the airport.
“Either me or the chief minister was ready to go and receive him (Modi) whatever the time maybe,” he added.
Shivakumar urged Ashok to check with the PMO. “Ashok doesn’t know… (he) has been kept out of the scene. Let him ask the Prime Minister’s Office,” the deputy chief minister said.
The Prime Minister was welcomed at ISTRAC by Isro chairman S. Somanath and the entire Chandrayaan-3 crew.