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Pokhran Aftermath

How various Indian political parties reacted to India’s Nuclear test in Pokhran 1998

  1. Sonia Gandhi (INC) - “Real strength lies in restraint and no show of shakti”
  2. K Natwar Singh (INC) - “tests did not conform to the latest technology”
  3. Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD) quipped that Delhites were now a bullseye for Pakistan’s nukes
  4. Former PM Indra Kumar Gujral (who in his tenure had supposedly presided over dismantling RAW infrastructure in Pakistan) lashed out at Vajpayee and wrote to him demanding India immediately declared no-first-use and signed the CTBT
  5. Former PM HD Deve Gowda severely criticized Vajpayee for being reckless, acting under RSS, and also for not taking the country in confidence before the tests!
  6. Former PM, Chandra Shekhar also criticized Vajpayee for Pokhran on economic arguments. (It was Chandra Shekhar’s Government which had to place national gold reserves as international collateral, about a decade earlier)
  7. Former PM Vishwanath Pratap Singh (ailing and hospitalized in London at that time) unequivocally praised the nuclear tests.
  8. Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) demanded Vajpayee’s resignation for having let India down. He further demanded India give 2000 crore to Pakistan to prevent Pakistan’s economy from collapsing due to their test!
  9. Surjit Singh Barnala (Akali Dal), instead of being piqued at not being informed despite being coalition partners, applauded the secrecy with which the operation was done by the NDA government.
  10. Defying his party line, Congress leader (actually leader of opposition in Lok Sabha), Sharad Pawar applauded the Vajpayee government and asked opposition parties to stand in support of the government.
  11. P Chidambaram (then in Tamil Maanila Congress) criticized Pokhran and lashed out at Vajpayee
  12. Communist Party of India criticized this as a plot of the US government!
  13. Janata Party welcomed the nuclear tests but prescribed developing a strategic doctrine
  14. Mamata (TMC) had more pressing things on her mind. She took back the outside support TMC had given to Vajpayee Government, alleging BJP was hand in gloves with communists and not giving enough “support” to TMC.
  15. Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) seemed more concerned about the potential suspension of funding in the aftermath of Pokhran II, as well as that the public support might embolden BJP.

Indian Elites

  1. N Ram (The Hindu) wrote a very lengthy editorial, crying over the “adverse and deplorable impact on Sino-Indian relations” the nuclear tests would have, reminding that as it was, ICBM program Agni had already provoked the Chinese
  2. The elites, Medha Patkar, Agnivesh, Praful Bidwai, Valson Thampu, etc. reacted predictably, “mounting signature campaign” and organizing protests to condemn the jingoistic act of Fascist Vajpayee