'Narasimha Rao wanted Atal Bihari Vajpayee to decide'
Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was almost ready for the nuclear test in 1996 but he handed over the onus to his successor Atal Bihari Vajpayee since the poll results were contrary to his expectations. This was revealed by former President A P J Abdul Kalam at the 7th R N Kao Memorial lecture at the RAW headquarters.
Kalam was then scientific advisor to the Defence Minister. "One night during May 1996, I got a call from the PM House. I was told to meet PM Rao immediately. I had met him just two days before the announcement of general election results. He had then told me to be ready with Department of Atomic Energy and my team for N-test," Kalam said.
Kalam said Rao had told him, "I am going to Tirupati. You wait for my authorisation to go ahead with the test. DRDO-DAE teams must be ready for action."
But the election result was quiet different from what Rao had anticipated. "I was busy in Chandipur missile range when I got a call saying I must immediately meet PM designate Vajpayeeji with Rao," Kalam said.
Pointing to smooth takeover of such an important programme, he said, "I witnessed a unique situation. The outgoing PM, Rao, asked me to brief the details of the nuclear programme to Vajpayee."