PM denies he opposed 1998 nuclear tests


New Delhi : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday denied that he had opposed the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

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Intervening in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) during the debate on the confidence motion, he said he had criticised the government in the wake of sanctions on India following the tests.

Singh said he had also made the comments on the nuclear tests in the context of non-proliferation goals that India had put forward in the UN in 1988.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition L K Advani had said Singh, as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha in 1998, had opposed the Pokhran-II tests.

Singh said the records could be gone through to check exactly what he had said.

Advani also referred to the “sharp exchanges” Singh had with a BJP leader in the Rajya Sabha. The Prime Minister said the exchanges were in context of the sanctions.

Meanwhile, Left parties accused Singh of telling “blatant lies” during the trust vote debate in Parliament and said his “short and dull” speech was a reflection of his “low confidence level”.

Senior Left leaders said his speech while moving the confidence motion in Lok Sabha was a “reiteration” of his belief in unilateralism by violating the understanding that had been reached under the Common Minimum Programme.

“Singh’s statement is a reiteration of his belief in unilateralism. He violated the understanding by going ahead with nuclear deal when there was no agreement between parties on the issue,” senior CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu said while talking to PTI.

On Singh’s remarks that veteran Marxists Jyoti Basu and Harkishen Singh Surjeet were among the architects of the ruling coalition, he said that the promises given to them were violated.

“A minority government cannot go ahead with the deal unilaterally. There was a CMP and it has been violated.” RSP General Secretary T J Chandrachoodan said the “sagacity and vision” shown by the veteran Marxist leaders were “blatantly betrayed” by Singh, compelling the Left to withdraw support to the Government.

Terming the Prime Minister’s speech as a “short, dull” one with “deceitful utterances”, he said he expected it to be a “soul searching” exercise. “He has nothing to say. The speech conveyed nothing. He was repeating blatant lies,” he alleged.

Forward Bloc Secretary G Devarajan said Singh’s short speech showed his “low confidence level” and accused him of even hiding truth before Parliament.