During an event following the successful soft landing of ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3 on the moon’s south pole, West Bengal Chief Minister and prominent opposition figure, Mamata Banerjee, made a statement that quickly went viral. She mentioned a conversation between astronaut Rakesh Sharma and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, humorously attributing it to Bollywood personality Rakesh Roshan, the father of Hrithik Roshan.
Banerjee’s mix-up between Rakesh Sharma and Rakesh Roshan, and her reference to the moon instead of space, drew widespread attention and amusement. To clarify, Rakesh Sharma never went to the moon; his famous response to Indira Gandhi’s question, “How does India look like from space?” was “Sare jahan se accha” (Better than the entire world).
In her statement, Banerjee said, “I remember when they reached the moon, Indira Gandhi asked Rakesh Roshan how India looked from there, from space.” This incident added to a growing list of instances where political leaders have displayed a lack of understanding regarding India’s prestigious and successful space missions.
For instance, Rajasthan Sports Minister Ashok Chandna congratulated the ‘passengers’ aboard Chandrayaan 3 after its successful soft landing, misunderstanding the mission’s purpose. Similarly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was asked about Chandrayaan 3 before the soft landing, to which he appeared to misunderstand the question and sought clarification from his accompanying minister.