Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the government stood by the theory of effectiveness of the thermonuclear device tested in the Pokhran II experiment in 1998 and termed the claims to the contrary attempts at “misleading.”

Dr. Singh, who cited the opinion given two days ago by the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said the nuclear test, carried out during his predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time was “successful” and not a “fizzle” as a nuclear scientist claimed early this week.

Talking to journalists at Ramsar village, 60 km from the district town of Barmer — not far from the test site in the neighbouring Jaisalmer district — Dr. Singh said: “We believe in our scientists. It is very clear that the test was successful. The former Defence Adviser and the former President too have testified to this.” He termed the controversy over the issue unwarranted. “It is a needless debate.”

"Ties not normal"

The Prime Minister, on a one-day trip to western Rajasthan to dedicate the Mangala oilfields to the nation, agreed that the country’s relations with Pakistan were not “normal.” To a query on a possible stop for the India-Pakistan train, Thar Express, at Barmer, he said: “It is not possible [to risk a stop at Barmer] when the relationship between the two nations is not normal. When it becomes normal, we can consider it.” Dr. Singh said some “forces” were at work to create instability in India-Pakistan relationship. “I could have said more on this but now I won’t ? .”

BJP crisis

Dr. Singh termed the crisis in the Bharatiya Janata Party an “undesirable” development which did not augur well for the polity of the nation. Yeh teek nahin hai (It is not a good thing), he said, pointing out that what was desirable were strong and stable political parties. “Otherwise, it would start showing an adverse impact on the country.”

Kandahar episode

The Prime Minister refused to join issue with the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, on the BJP leader and then Home Minister, L.K. Advani being party to the decision to send the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, along with three released terrorists, to Kandahar, Afghanistan, to secure the release of passengers aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines plane. He said: “I was not there. It was their government.”

Asked whether his government could throw any further light on the episode, Dr. Singh said: “I told you, I was not there. Jaswantji was there ? Yashwantji was there. I cannot comment on this.”

The Prime Minister, who interacted with labourers working under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and women of self-help groups at Ramsar, enquired about drought conditions and the measures taken to cope with the problem.

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