The Congress on Thursday criticised former Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan Nair for claiming that the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon was delayed due to certain political decisions of the United Progressive Alliance government, PTI reported.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged that Nair had no right to criticise the government since he is a scientist. “Just because you find that a particular political party is out of power or in power, tomorrow will some other scientist start singing the tune of the Congress when we come back to power that all things were delayed by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party],” Singhvi asked.

On Wednesday, the former chairman of the space agency had alleged that the UPA government wanted to show “some major event” before the 2014 election, in apparent reference to the Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter mission.

“Original plan was to launch Chandrayaan-2 in 2012 but due to some policy level decisions of UPA-2 government it was delayed,” ANI quoted Nair as saying. “After Modi ji [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] took over, he gave thrust to such projects, especially Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan-2.”

Indian Space Research Organisation Chairperson K Sivan on Wednesday announced that Chandrayaan-2 will be launched after midnight on July 15. A day later, Sivan said that India is planning to launch its own space station.

Singhvi also urged the ruling BJP to condemn Nair’s comments. “Unfortunately, this is the growing culture of this country,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “It must be condemned by me and the BJP also because democracy of Indian kind cannot flourish if institutions start thinking on these lines.”

In response, BJP spokesperson Sanjay Mayukh said: “Whatever work has been done by this government is in the public domain. People can see the work and have faith in our leader.”

Nair was the architect of India’s first unmanned mission, Chandrayaan-1 that was launched on October 22, 2008. He served as a secretary in the Department of Space from 2003 to 2009. In August 2009, he had said that the launch of Chandrayaan-2 was planned towards the end of 2012. Nair joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in October 2018.

In March, after India demonstrated its anti-satellite missile capability, former Defence Research and Development Organisation director-general VK Saraswat had alleged that his team had proposed the same to the previous UPA government but had not got a response.