The 10th anniversary of Pokhran II – the nuclear tests conducted by the NDA government on May 11, 1998 – will be a quiet affair. No official celebrations have been planned to commemorate the event.
BJP senior leader LK Advani dubbed the government's decision not to celebrate the day is dishonouring Indira Gandhi. “She was the one who started nuclear testing. What the Vajpayee government did in 1998 was a culmination of it,” he said at a function in New Delhi.
The BJP, which led the NDA government, has accused the UPA of deliberately ignoring the event. “The UPA wants to surrender its atomic weapons independence,” party spokesperson Prakash Jawadekar said. He said LK Advani had suggested last month that the tests be celebrated but that the Centre has done nothing. Asked why the party was not celebrating it, he said: “It was never a party programme but a government event. The BJP has never celebrated it even in the past.”
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari, however, said celebrations would detract the maturity of the weaponisation programme being pursued since the first tests in 1974, when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister.
Nuclear scientist Dr Krishnan Santhanam, then in-charge of the test site in Pokhran, said: “I have no comment on the government’s decision because I am not privy to it. I don’t believe any event should continue to be celebrated over a long period of time.”