The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conducted five nuclear tests from May 11 to May 13, 1998, in Pokhran and in a few days it will be the 10th anniversary of the tests that announced India's entry into the nuclear weapons club. Many believe that those tests finally led to the Indo-US nuclear deal but the UPA government has decided not to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tests.
Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju defended the United Progressive Alliance government's decision of not celebrating the 10th anniversary of Pokhran II nuclear tests.
CNN-IBN: Why would you not do a public celebration or a commemoration of Pokhran II?
Pallam Raju: First of all thank you very much for having me on this programme. I think when we you are talking about India's nuclear programme we have every reason to be proud of what we have achieved. And I think being proud of the programme in itself is a reason for celebration. I don't see any further reason to celebrate a detonation.
CNN-IBN: Mr Raju, you may call it a detonation, but the truth is with the Shakti tests India declared itself a nuclear power. The day has great significance and there is much reason to be proud of Pokhran in India's strategic programme.
Pallam Raju: Let's look at what Pokhran has achieved for India. Of course it has demonstrated the capability India has had. But the detrimental effects - sanctions have affected most of our strategic program that were of importance to the nation. So I don't see any reason why it should be advertise loudly about.
CNN-IBN: Many would say you are speaking this way because of a clear nuclear deal shadow. Many of the clauses in the Indo-US nuclear deal are after all nothing but a result of Pokhran II. And that's why perhaps there is a slight discomfort celebrating it. What would the non-proliferation lobby would say?
Pallam Raju: Looking at policies that India has pursued in terms of being a non-first user, all that speaks about the deterrence policy we follow. And being a very responsible nuclear power and we have not proliferated and India's nuclear record peaks for it's responsible behaviour.
CNN-IBN: Final question, it's not just about Pokhran. It's about the 1971 victory that you celebrate and the Kargil victory, which you don't. The BJP today says they agree Indira Gandhi started it and the NDA took the next step with Pokhran II.
Pallam Raju: We had the bomb ready and the NDA blasted it in 1998. So what has happened after the blast you know the consequences the country had to face? You know the sanctions that were imposed. Every important programme of the country suffered as a consequence. Against this background, is this the reason for celebration? We know what we are, we are conscience of our capabilities, we know the strengths we posses. What is the need to advertise for it and make a celebration of it?