How A Drunk DMK Minister Irritated Vikram Sarabhai And Drove Away ISRO’s Launchpad From Tamil Nadu To Andhra Pradesh

In a groundbreaking achievement, India has solidified its place in space history by successfully landing on the lunar South Pole. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his heartfelt congratulations to Indian scientists and citizens, heralding the event as an unforgettable day for the nation. The culmination of the mission, however, lay in the final moments of landing, as ISRO’s Automatic Landing Sequence (ALS) took over, guiding Vikram LM to a gentle touchdown on the lunar surface.

As the nation reveled in the triumph of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3, a sour note emerged from the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) party, drawing criticism for attempting to attribute the success to their political legacy. Rajiv Gandhi, the DMK Student Wing President, and Spokesperson, took to Twitter to assert that the accomplishments of Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-2, and Chandrayaan-3, along with the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyan), owed their success to Tamil Nadu’s two-language policy championed by the late DMK leader, Annadurai.

Much like in the past, Dravidian Stockists attempted to associate any positive developments in Tamil Nadu or achievements by Tamils with the legacy of Dravidian leaders like Periyar, Karunanidhi, and Annadurai. When the Chandrayaan 3 mission successfully landed, an old statement attributed to Dravidian leader EV Ramasamy Naicker gained traction on social media. Many used this statement to ridicule him for making a disparaging comment about India. Reportedly, during the time of Independence, Ramasamy Naicker remarked that India wouldn’t even be capable of producing a safety pin if the British were to leave the country. Following the triumphant achievement of Chandrayaan-3, this particular statement made by Periyar started trending, and users on social media engaged in mockery directed at him.

In yet another occurrence of a DMK leader allegedly showing disrespect towards an ISRO scientist, which has been detailed in the book authored by former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, is currently gaining attention across social media platforms. An excerpt from Nambi Narayanan’s book, titled “Ready to Fire,” recounts an incident where the coasts of Kanyakumari location were initially selected as the primary choice for constructing the ISRO launch pad. However, due to the alleged actions of an intoxicated DMK Minister, the location was changed to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The book also highlights how the DMK minister insulted Vikram Sarabhai, the trailblazer behind India’s space research efforts.

The excerpt from the book reads: “Not many know that Sriharikota itself was not ISRO’s first choice for a launch pad. It was one of the few sites identified by senior ISRO scientist R M Vasagam, another being a place south of Nagapattinam. Both were in Tamil Nadu. For launching polar satellites, it was clear to us, our launch pad has to be on the eastern coast. Launching the rocket along the spin of the earth, it gave a huge advantage of cost; also by manouevring the rocket to the south after its initial eastward journey, we avoided flying over any landmass. The coastline of Kanyakumari was considered in the late 1960s, but a terrible mishandling by the government of Tamil Nadu, and a timely pitch by Andhra Pradesh, made Sriharikota happen.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai was to participate in a discussion with Sarabhai and a few scientists and officials over the identification of a site from a shortlist proposed by Vikram Sarabhai. Annadurai could not attend the meeting because of severe shoulder pain, and he deputed Mathiyazhagan, one of his ministers, for the meeting. Sarabhai was kept waiting, and after sometime, the minister was ‘brought’ to the meeting—with a few holding him from falling. The politician irritated Sarabhai no end with his impossible demands and incoherence. Much before the meeting got over, Sarabhai had decided Tamil Nadu is not the place to be.

Just then Andhra Pradesh made an offer virtually nobody could refuse. Take the 26,000 acre Sriharikota island, he told Sarabhai. With India’s rocket launch pad coming up there, the Andhra Pradesh government must have realised that the sparsely inhabited place may see some development.”

The truth remains that the Dravidian ideologue EVR (hailed as ‘Periyar’ by his followers) cast doubt on India’s capabilities, while another Dravidian minister’s reported misconduct with a scientist led to the relocation of the launchpad from Nagapattinam to Sriharikota. However, the Dravidian supporters and the DMK IT wing seem to lack any sense of shame as they attempt to take credit for the accomplishment of Chandrayaan 3.

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