PRIME Minister Narendra Modi's 'Mission Shakti' announcement right in the middle of the election season has raised disturbing questions about the Modi Government's handling of strategic issues. The PM announced that an Indian anti-satellite missile, A-Sat, had successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO), and that India is the fourth country to demonstrate such space missile capability. As many as seven years ago, the DRDO had announced this capability. Even if strategic considerations warranted a demonstration of this capability, we need to ask why the Modi government choose this moment for this demonstration and this sensational manner to announce it.

Clearly, the BJP is worried about the growing prospect of its impending defeat and wanted to use the DRDO's defence capability to cloud the poll environment with the threat of a war. Today's announcement has rekindled the memory of the demonetization disaster unleashed on the eve of the crucial UP elections two years ago. A government which takes such crucial economic and strategic decisions on the basis of electoral calculations is a huge liability. Today's announcement makes it all the more imperative for the people to vote out this despotic regime which takes crucial decisions affecting our national existence in such an arbitrary and cynical manner.

This election-time satellite strike must not be allowed to distract citizens' attention in this crucial election from the Modi Government's strike against jobs, farmers, people's rights, democracy and communal harmony. The satellite strike also raises the threat of an escalating arms race and the spectre of further weaponisation and militarisation in the region and we must not fall into such a trap. We must also make sure that in the coming days issues of strategic importance are not subordinated to the whims and political interests of the powers that be.