Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on July 4 took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the ‘non-biological’ PM should first go to Manipur before going into the space. Ramesh cited a media report that quoted Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) chief S Somnath as saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be the candidate for India’s first manned space mission.

“Before He goes into space, the non-biological Pradhan Mantri should go to Manipur,” Ramesh wrote on X.

The media report has quoted Somnath as saying that PM Modi can be the candidate for India’s first manned space mission, ‘Gaganyaan‘, which is slated to be launched in 2025.

“While he (PM Modi) certainly has many other, more critical responsibilities, developing a human spaceflight program is a capability we would like to cultivate and contribute to the Gaganyaan space program, particularly the astronaut training program for the International Space Station (ISS),” said S Somnath, as quoted by the media report.

“All of us will be very, very proud if we have the ability to confidently send the head of state to space,” Somnath said in the report.

The Gaganyaan project is another major Indian mission that envisages a demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members into an orbit of 400 km for a 3-day mission and bringing them safely back to earth by landing in Indian waters.

PM Modi-led NDA government at the centre is facing heat from the opposition MPs of the INDIA bloc over the ethnic violence in the north-eastern state of Manipur, which started in May 2023. PM Modi, while addressing the Rajya Sabha on July 3, affirmed that the central government is making efforts to normalise the situation in Manipur.

“The government is continuously making efforts to normalise the situation in Manipur. More than 11,000 FIRs have been registered and over 500 people have been arrested. Incidents of violence are continuously reducing in Manipur,” PM Modi said adding that the central and state governments are establishing interactions with all stakeholders to restore peace.

“Today, schools, colleges, offices and other institutions are open in the state. The central and state governments are talking to all stakeholders to restore peace,” the PM said.

Earlier on Tuesday, while the Prime Minister was addressing the Lok Sabha, he faced continuous sloganeering by the opposition on Manipur.

The northeastern state has been witnessing ethnic violence since May 3 last year following clashes during a rally organised by the All Tribals Students Union (ATSU) to protest against the demand for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category.

Earlier in June, Union Home Minister Amit Shah did a holistic review of the security situation in Manipur in a high-level meeting here in the national capital and directed to ensure that “no further incident of violence takes place” in the northeastern state.

In the one-hour-long meeting at his North Block office, the Home Minister stressed the strategic deployment of the central forces to restore peace and tranquility in Manipur.