New Delhi: Pokhran nuclear test was carried out in May, 1998.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who was the operational in-charge of 1998 Pokharan-II Tests, has come out with an astounding revelation. He has claimed that the nuclear tests, which was hailed to be the defining achievement for the BJP-led NDA government, was in fact an initiative of the Congress regime, led by former Prime Minister Rao.
Barely two days before the announcement of results of the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, Rao had directed Kalam, scientific adviser to the defence minister at the time, to keep his team ready for a nuclear test, a report published in TOI said.
However, with the poll outcome throwing up a change in government, Rao ensured his impending successor Atal Behari Vajpaee was briefed in his presence on the nuke test plans and so enabled a smooth takeover of the nuclear programme.
This was revealed by Kalam while delivering the 7th RN Kao Memorial Lecture, organised by the Research and Analyses wing of the Cabinet Secretariat. "I still remember a scene during May 1996. It was 9 'o' clock. I got a call ....that I should meet Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao immediately," TOI quoted Kalam as saying.
According to the father of India's missile programme, who later went on to become the President of India, Rao told him, "Kalam, be ready with the department of atomic energy and your team for the N-test and I am going to Tirupati. You wait for my authorisation to go ahead with the test. DRDO-DAE teams must be ready for action".