H C Singh

India 1998 – 2004

Narsimaha Rao government was a blemish on Congress which was led by leaders like Gandhi,Patel, Rajendra Parsad and Nehru. As a result in 1996 elections congress and Narsimaha Rao were trounced. Congress getting only 140 seats against BJP ‘s 161. Thus BJP’s leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was invited by President to form the government but after two weeks Vajpayee resigned as unlike Narsimaha Rao he did not indulge in malpractice of purchasing MPS to continue in power, as Vajpayee was a rational leader and a veteran who had been MP since 1950’s and was a man of principles. Till next elections of 1998 this country was ruled or misruled by hotchpotch of political parties and called United Front or by any such name under H.D Deve Gowda’s Prime Ministership.

In 1998 elections Congress seats in Parliament touched the lowest. Congress got only 114 seats against its rival the other National Party BJP. As with a number of allies, BJP as leader of National Democratic Front (NDA) formed the government under the Prime Ministership of Vajpayee from March 1998. This was a stable government which could and certainly did a lot for the nation.

The first test of capability and boldness came when Pakistan tested successfully medium range missile called Gauri after a terrorist Muslim invader who had destroyed many temples in north India and killed thousand of innocent Indians in his March from Khyber Pass to north west and central India devastating everything that came in the way. Vaypayee government got ready to give more than a befitting reply to Pakistan’s aggressive attitude and celebrations. Thus just after two months in May 1998 India tested not one but five nuclear devices in Rajasthan from where in 1974 India under Indira Gandhi’s government had tested first ever nuclear device. India showed boldness to the entire world, particularly to Pakistan and India’s Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes warned Pakistan and even China for any aggressive action in Kashmir or north east of India.

Inspite of nuclear test by both Pakistan and India, Vajpayee remained cool and farsighted. In early 1999 Prime Minister Vaypayee visited Lahore.

This was a historic visit as PM Vajpayee initiated first ever Bus service from Delhi to Lahore. It was also a historic visit as both India and Pakistan had tested their nuclear bombs and it was feared the Kashmir dispute may not escalate into a full fledged war even with nuclear weapons. Vajpayee’s speech was like applying ointment on Indo-Pak wounds and Prime Minister Vaypayee’s coolness and aptitude as a seasoned politician and former Foreign Minister in Morarji Desai government did wonders. Both India and Pakistan realized the havoc that a nuclear war would cause. It will be worthwhile to quote from his speech, as under:
“I have brought one message from India. There can be no greater legacy that we can leave behind than to do away with mistrust, to abjure and eliminate conflict, to erect an edifice of durable peace, amity, harmony and cooperation. I am confident that through our combined efforts we will succeed in doing so, no matter how hard we have to work in achieving it.”

In appreciation of work and conduct as a politician, as well as his intelligence and remarkable honesty above a few lines are example from Atal Bihari Vaypayee’s speech. Howsoever Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif liked and tried for maintaining cordial and friendly relations as never before, opening a new chapter in the honesty of Indo-Pak good neighborly relations but events like military coup by Musharaf, deposition of lawfully and democratically elected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and above all Pakistan Army’s aggression in Kargil area of Kashmir brought hostilities and mistrust.

Kargil area of Indian Kashmir is crucial for the protection of Ladakh. It is also important because Kargil hill tops under Indian control protect the Leh Srinagar highway. Pakistan thought that once these tops of Kargil were occupied by their forces it will be virtually impossible, in their view, for India to dislodge their forces and reoccupy it. But they were mistaken: they had forgotten the Indian Army’s courage and determination as evidenced in surrender of 90,000 Pakistanis soldiers with generals on the defeat of East Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh as well as defeat of Pakistani Army in 1965 and India’s occupation of Haji Pir. But Pakistan’s high command felt that as they have nuclear power matching with India, Government of India under BJP will hesitate to dislodge their forces from Kagil heights , fearing nuclear war. But that was not to be as Prime Minister Vaypayee was not like Charan Singh or Morarji Desai. He was a man with iron determination.

In May 1999 Indian Army was alerted by Kashmiri shepherds about unknown Pakistan’s soldier and Pathans. Kargil war was Musharaf’s war against India as Chief of Pakistan Army. But as Pakistani Army was mauled and given crushing defeat by Indian Soldiers though Pakistan had initially occupied all the tops of the Kargil hills and it appeared to Pakistani Army and Musharaf that Indian Army will not dislodge the Pakistani Army. But as after fierce fighting by Indian Army aided by Indian Air Force, Pakistan and Musharaf’s army was given humiliating defeat, Musharaf hit upon the idea to put the blame of defeat on Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif. So he staged a military coup in Oct ’99 and dislodged Nawaz sharif and himself became the President of Pakistan. Pakistan had lost more than 2000 soldiers in comparison India lost about 500 valiant soldiers from all over India including Nagaland, Orissa and Karnataka besides majority being from northern Army.

It was Vajpayee’s first victory, a great victory as PM which washed off humiliation of Indian Army defeat in 1962 China war. While China had intruded into north east of India exploring vast area and leaving the conquered territory of India at their own will, the Pakistan Army in Kargil war was crushed and India captured with fierce fighting all the hills of Kargil area including Tiger hill.

September 17, 2009 - Posted by | Corruption, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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