Mocked by Rahul Gandhi with "World Theatre Day" greetings after his address to the nation on India's test of its anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his comeback at a mega rally in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut, where he launched his election campaign for next month's national election.
PM Modi referred to yesterday's announcement, saying: "You all saw how India created history yesterday by achieving a feat in space, to ensure we emerge stronger globally and ensure our safety, but see the kind of funny things people in the opposition have been saying. Some of them are so bizarre that one can't help but question their level of intelligence."
He did not name Rahul Gandhi, who had tweeted yesterday: "Well done DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), extremely proud of your work. I would also like to wish the PM a very happy World Theatre Day."
PM Modi responded by punning on the ASAT and a theatre "set".
"One such person spoke about theatre... It is both worrying and funny at the same time. In theatre you see sets being shifted... now tell me, what do you say about someone who does not even know the difference between an ASAT and a theatre set," said the Prime Minister, addressing his large audience at the rally in Meerut.
Opposition leaders have accused PM Modi of violating the poll code with his televised address to the nation to announce that India had shot down a live satellite and successfully tested an anti-satellite or ASAT missile.
"It was this chowkidar's government that had the courage to conduct surgical strikes on land, sky and space. India should develop, India should be secure from enemies," PM Modi said today.
India is the fourth country to have tested such an anti-satellite weapon after the US, Russia and China, the Prime Minister said in the rare address to the nation with elections just weeks away.
Rahul Gandhi, addressing a gathering in Delhi, had said the PM's expression during his address betrayed his anxiety that "his time to go has come".
"He (PM) made the country wait for 45 minutes for his announcement. Did you look at his face? He has realised that the Congress will now give justice... Modi is now afraid that his time to go has come," the Congress president had said.