'Brajesh's remarks on Nuke Deal personal, not of BJP or Vajpayee'

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New Delhi, May 10 (UNI) Senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh today denied that former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra ever consulted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before airing his views on Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

"Whatever Mr Mishra has said was in his individual capacity and he has every right to express his view," Mr Jaswant Singh said at an impromptu press conference at his residence on the eve of Pokharan II nuclear test 10 years ago.

He said he met Mr Vajpayee a day before and asked him if Mr Mishra had consulted him before issuing a statement favouring the Indo-US Nuclear Cooperation. Mr Vajpayee denied having Mr Mishra called on him, he said.

The former Defence and External Affairs Minister said the BJP and Mr Vajpayee also always opposed the deal in the present form and expressed their reservations on it.

"It is nothing but his(Mishra's) personal views on the issue and we did not want to comment on it except that BJP does not subscribe to this view," he said.

Asked if the BJP wanted to distance from Mr Mishra who served the NDA government and held a very important assignment, Mr Jaswant Singh said, "We hold Mr Mishra in high esteem and we do laud his contribution and advise on many issues during the NDA tenure." Accusing the Centre of mortgaging the country's foreign policy to the Communists (Left Parties), he said the Nuke Deal in the present form would affect India's strategic, nuclear and economic concern.

The situation had changed drastically over the years and there was instability and violence in neighbouring countries. It was time the country needed to strengthen its strategic powers. Under the deal, India would not be allowed to do nuclear tests, not even on your computers, he claimed.

The former Defence Minister, however, regretted the Government's indifference to Pokhran II, achieved ten years ago, which had totally changed the world scenario. Describing the UPA a 'farce', he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was trying to belittle the feat which had, in fact, gone a long way to enhance India's prestige and its strategic capability the world over.

''However, they were quite satisfied with our 1998 decision to go in for the nuclear test as per the requirement of the time,'' he asserted.

Mr Jaswant Singh said that only after the 1998 nuclear test conducted by India the situation had changed with several countries going nuclear.

When pointed out that former President A P J Abdul Kalam had also favoured the deal, Mr Singh said "I am not competent to comment on Dr Kalam. But what I could understand was that he had said India could conduct nuclear tests whenever it thinks so." But this nuke deal will not allow it, he added.

On a question, he conceded that the research on nuclear science in India was a continuing process right from Jawaharlal Nehru's days.

otherwise he would not have given so much importance to Dr Homi J.

Bhabha. Again the first peaceful test was conducted in 1974. "So we never claim that our government made the feat. I was India's achievement," he said.

In fact, it was former Prime Minister P. Narasimha Rao who asked Mr Vajpayee to do what "they cannot do" (nuclear test), he informed.

Asked whether the deal would provide India thorium route to make up the depleting uranium fuel, Mr Singh said it would take 5 to 7 years to develop the technology. "It is well known that India has good thorium deposits. Why had it never been exploited by the previous governments, particularly Congress which ruled the country for almost 45 years?'' he asked.

UNI KAS PK KN1747

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