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Nuclear Tests By Vajpayee Would Not Have Been Possible Without The Work Done By Rajiv Gandhi & Narasimha Rao: C. Raja Mohan

The decision to conduct the tests was taken by Vajpayee's predecessor P V Narasimha Rao who could not execute the plan as he lost the 1996 general elections.

In an opinion column, C. Raja Mohan, director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, explained that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could conduct five nuclear tests barely weeks after taking charge as the PM only because of the “preparatory work that was done under Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao.” 

“To be sure, Vajpayee was standing on the shoulders of P V Narasimha Rao, who had to manage the aftershocks from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. And Rao had the benefit of important foreign policy innovations under Rajiv Gandhi,” Raja Mohan wrote in his The Indian Express article. 

After assuming prime ministership for the second time in March 1998, Vajpayee immediately ordered the tests, following which India declared itself  a nuclear weapon state. At first, three successful underground nuclear tests were carried out on May 11, 1998. Then, two more underground tests on May 13, 1998 completed the planned series of tests. 

According to a report published in NDTV, the decision to conduct the tests was taken by Vajpayee’s predecessor Rao. However, the latter could not execute the plan as he lost the 1996 general elections. 

While Rajiv Gandhi and Rao strengthened the infrastructure, Vajpayee is credited with making India a nuclear weapon state. “His [Vajpayee’s] decision to conduct five nuclear tests in May 1998, barely weeks after taking charge as PM, would not have been possible without the preparatory work that was done under Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao,” Raja Mohan wrote. 

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