Historical Notes – Left stand on Nuclear Weapons and Pokhran tests


These notes are taken  from a Facebook post of 7th August, 2017.


No to nuclear weapons in the subcontinent, no to the dictates of the global nuclear powers, no to nuclear jingoism aligned with Hindutva!!

The exchange between Prerna Gupta and my friend
Govindarajan on my earlier post merits the following clarification:

See the original press statement of the Left Parties on 16 May 1998 (retreived from my old email archives and posted on my blog) at https://tjayaraman.wordpress.com/…/historical-notes-left-p…/.

In case this is not enough, you may also see the following Frontline report of a well-attended meeting in Delhi, organised by the Left Parties. See the resolution passed by the meeting cited in full in the article (I was also a speaker there, representing scientists, from institutions including within the DAE, against the tests), and see particularly the call for protests on Hiroshima Day of 1998.

For a report on the Chennai convention against nuclear weapons tests of Pokhran, rreferred to by Govindarajan Thupil see report at

The biggest mobilisation was predictably in West Bengal and of course protests were held elsewhere too. (I assure, the crowd in Kolkata was not mobilised by Mamata Didi). For reports see,

You may disagree with us politically, but let us just stay with the facts while we are about it.

As far as I can make out from Ms. Gupta’s post, she seems to have taken her quotations based on excerpts from Prisoner’s of the Nuclear Dream edited by M. V. Ramana and C. Rammanohar Reddy. The particular article in the book (by Krishna Ananth) in its attitude to the CPM stand on nuclear weapons is a classic example of the disinformation that ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY activists have propogated against the CPM. (Ms. Gupta may of course may have referred to actual issues of People’s Democracy, but I rather doubt it).

The quotations she provides are very likely correct – I am certainly not challenging them. And it certainly also represents an initial confusion in the CPM’s reponse. But she does not acknowledge that it does not represent the official position of the party, nor does she bother to track what the CPM did beyond these selective quotations. In fact in the essay, it is acknowledged that these quotations are not the official stand of the party and there is an extended quotation from Prakash Karat, that shows a clear condemnation of nuclear weapons.

(Of course, Ms. Gupta refers to the statement of the Peoples Democracy of 17 May. This was, I recall, issued before the full politburo met and the final decision was made clear).

However, the essay also deliberately misrepresents by not including the statement, putting official within quotation marks and relegating the Prakash Karat quotation to a footnote (that runs over the bottom of two pages!!). Based on this selective quotation mongering, the book also draws wholly unwarranted conclusions at the end of page 330.


Historical Notes — Left Parties’ Statement of 16 May, 1998 on the Pokhran test


Press Statement

The Left Parties — CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc — met on 16 May, 1998 and have issued the following joint statement.

The Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has made a public  declaration that the BJP led government has decided to go ahead with making and induction of nuclear weapons. He has also claimed that India is now a nuclear weapons state. This major policy declaration is fraught with serious consequences. The Left parties are of the categorical opinion that making of nuclear bombs and weaponry at this juncture is unwarranted and contrary to the interests of the country. There is no direct\ nuclear threat posed by any country against India which necessitates such a step. The BJP-led government has taken this drastic decision on its own without even caring to discuss with the national political parties. The Prime Minister is now promising to call a meeting of opposition leaders on the eve of the budget session of Parliament after making the BJP’s own policy a fait accompli.

The contempt shown by the Vajpayee government in not taking the people of the country into confidence while hastening to write to President Clinton has been exposed by the entire text of the Prime Minister’s letter being published in the United States. This letter has sought to mollify the United States by citing the threat to India from China as the main factor. It is short- sighted and against India’s national interests to revive aconfrontation with China after the decade-long progress in normalisation and improvement of relations between the two countries. By adopting this unilateral policy, the Vajpayee governmenthas seriously harmed the improvement in relations with our neighbouring countries which was being built up over the years and carried forward by the previous United Front government. As a result of the reckless nuclear policy, there will be a harmful nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan with diversion of scarce resources for a costly and futile build up of nuclear weapons. This will not benefit the Indian people whohave more serious problems about their livelihood to deal with.

The BJP has rushed into this adventurist policy with the political motive of rousing feelings of chauvinism and jingoism in order to cover up its own political difficulties of running a rickety coalition and its failure to address the serious problems facing the country. While condemning the sanctions imposed by the USA and some other countries, the Left parties strongly oppose the other policy track adopted of further opening up and wooing foreign multinationals in all sectors of the economy. This anti-national policy will only add to the burdens suffered bythe people. The Left parties demand that the BJP-led governmentimmediately stop the talk of nuclear weaponisation. It must take steps to restore the process of improvement of relations with our neighbours and rely upon the sound policy India has been pursuing of working for nuclear disarmament while safeguarding India’s security interests by not signing any discriminatory treaties like the NPT and the CTBT.

The meeting was attended by Harkishan Singh Surjeet, A. B.Bardhan, D.D. Shastri, Sushil Bhattacharya, Abani Roy, PrakashKarat, J. Chittaranjan, S. Ramachandran Pillai and Devarajan.