Rajiv Gandhi Rules The Roost This Election, Modi Attacks The Former PM Again For Using INS Viraat During Vacation
The Logical Indian Crew India
May 10th, 2019 / 1:22 PM
Image Credit: Jaganjosh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new found interest in the 1980s, has brought Rajiv Gandhi to the forefront of the politics this election. Days after Modi’s Bhrastachari No.1 barb to Rajiv Gandhi for which he received a clean chit by EC, PM once again has unleashed a fresh attack. He referred to the former Prime Minister while addressing a rally in New Delhi on May 8, reported Times of India, accusing Rajiv Gandhi of using INS Viraat, a Centaur-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy as a “family taxi” during a 10-day vacation to the Lakshadweep island.
Modi targeted the Gandhi family and said, “The Namdaar say that army is not private property, but it is them who had used for so many years.” Questioning the crowd, he asked – “Have you heard that Rajiv Gandhi, while holding the PM office used INS Viraat for ten straight days for his vacation”. He further mentioned that Rajiv’s in-laws who were in Italy had joined him during his vacation on the ship.
Modi, taking a jibe at the late Rajiv Gandhi who held the PM office (1984- 89) asked several questions such as – ‘Why were outsiders allowed on board?’ ‘Was not the national security compromised?’ He even said that the Navy personnel were put in the service of Rajiv Gandhi and his family while they were vacationing.
India Today Magazine was the first to report about Rajiv’s vacationing in Lakshadweep archipelago in 1987. The magazine had mentioned, four close friends of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, along with Sonia Gandhi’s sister, brother-in-law and their daughter, her mother, R. Maino, her brother and a maternal uncle were there on the ship. Apart from these, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya and their three children along with Ajitabh’s daughter were on board. The report had further mentioned that Rajiv wanted to pay his bills during the vacation.
The major controversy that broke out was the fact INS Viraat had a humongous daily expense as the warship travelled with an entire retinue of escort ships. It is also reported that a submarine was too on standby. Some defence experts have asked how can the prime minister deprive the navy of its most effective fighting component to suit his holiday plans.
Congress fights back
Rahul Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s son and the current president of Congress, was the first one to hit back against the PM’s scathing remark. Speaking to a rally in Haryana, Rahul referred to the latest attack by Modi from his quiver and asked him to talk about the Rafale issue, and farmers distress before talking about Rajiv Gandhi.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Congress spokesperson, reacted by reminding the time Modi used seaplane in Gujarat. He further asserted that Modi is frightened to lose the election, so he is pulling stories from the grave. He also asked Modi to talk about the drop in employment and increase in farmers distress since the time BJP has come to power. He further called Modi as “Master of Bahut Jhooth Party.”
What is true?
Wajahaat Habibullah, who was then the administrator of Lakswadeep told India Today that INS Viraat was indeed stationed in Lakshadweep, but the Gandhi family did not holiday on the ship. He further said that Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi arrived on the island in a government chopper and the warship was for PM’s backup security in the middle of the ocean as there was no other option except warships.
Habibullah quashed the PM for bringing out past instances by saying that Rajiv Gandhi was on an official meeting and decided to stay back after his guests joined him. He further said that this was a sheer violation of MCC.
Former Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha refused the allegation made by PM Modi and said that Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were on the ship for an official two-day tour. Pasricha, then was in-charge of INS Viraat noted that all security protocols were followed during the visit and no foreigners or other guests were present, reported News18. Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas too supported Pasricha and said none of the ships was “specially diverted” for the personal use of Gandhi family. Ramdas backing his claims produced a picture of that day and said that PM on that day chaired a meeting of Islands Development Authority.
Retired Vice Admiral IC Rao referring to Modi’s comment said that such statements are made to garner votes.
Written by : Debarghya Sil
Edited by : Shweta Kothari