Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday criticised the government for announcing the launch of an anti-satellite weapon, saying “only a foolish government” would give away a defence secret. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India had shot down a live satellite in space and had become the fourth country to do so.

“The capability to shoot down a satellite has existed for many years,” Chidambaram said. “A wise government will keep the capability secret. Only a foolish government will disclose it and betray a defence secret.”

The former Union minister also questioned the timing of the announcement. “Why was it done now in the middle of an election campaign? Only to boost the sagging fortunes of the BJP,” he tweeted.

Modi had called the operation Mission Shakti. Opposition parties had congratulated the scientists responsible for the launch but criticised the government for the manner of the announcement as it came just weeks before the Lok Sabha elections are set to begin.

On Friday, a panel set up by the Election Commission said it had not found any violation of the Model Code of Conduct in Modi’s announcement.