The legend of Pokhran: Rao told me bomb was ready, I only exploded it said Vajpayee

Vicky Nanjappa

New Delhi, Aug 17: Days after P V Narasimha Rao passed away in 2004, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, " Rao told me that the bomb was ready, I only exploded it." Rao's words were, " Saamagri tayar hai."

In 1995, the nuclear tests had been postponed after the Americans discovered the preparations in Pokhran. A year later when Vajpayee took over, he did not go ahead with the tests as he was aware that his government would not last.

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When in 1998, he formed a more stable government, one of his first order was to go ahead with the tests. The recent movie starring John Abraham depicts so well, the secrecy around the tests and how India managed to successfully hoodwink the Americans.

In intelligence circles, this is one of the most spoken about incident. Officials recall the secrecy involved in conducting the tests. The Americans could not get wind of it and it could not fail at any cost. The officer also recalls the backing that all those involved in the tests got from the Prime Minister's Office.

There was plenty at stake says the officer to OneIndia. Failing was not an option especially after what happened in 1995. Moreover Vajpayee was fully aware of the harsh sanctions that would follow once the tests were conducted. He was not deterred by that fact, the officer also recalled.

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Following the tests, Pakistan too tested a few days later. There was palpable tension in the region and the world was concerned about it. However Vajpayee handled the situation well and even announced a nuclear doctrine for public consumption in 1999. He took steps for greater engagement with China.

With Pakistan, Vajpayee did all to ensure that there was peace. He took the bus to Lahore from Amritsar and delivered a historic speech only to be told by Nawaz Sharif that he could even win an election in Pakistan. The meet even led to the Lahore Declaration.

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