03 March, 2021

Blast From A Far Past

Brajesh's note on Pokhran II is hard to dispute. That's what irks the BJP.

Blast From A Far Past
Every time Brajesh Mishra speaks, the BJP ties itself up in knots. It has become a regular political skit. Mishra pops up like a jack in the box and makes a statement; the BJP spokespersons, solemn-faced, say "he is not a member of our party". This happened again last week when days before the 10th anniversary of Pokhran II, Brajesh told Hindustan Times that the "weaponisation was ordered by Rajiv Gandhi". For those who follow issues of strategic defence, there was nothing extraordinary in the statement. Atal Behari Vajpayee was sworn in as PM on March 19, 1998, and the tests took place on May 11. Clearly, Indian scientists couldn't have put together a nuclear bomb in little over a month. Presumably, there was a weapons programme already in place. Now Vajpayee's former principal secretary was simply stating this.

The problem with the statement was political. The BJP has always tried to create an impression that without Vajpayee at the helm, India would never have become a nuclear weapons state. The "we built the bomb" spiel fits in well with...

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