Hours after Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was in an official programme on INS Viraat, he has admitted that the late PM went to Lakshadweep for holidays. However, he has attacked Prime Minister Modi for his foreign trips.
Talking to news agency ANI, Congress leader Nirupam said: "The then Vice-Admiral of INS Viraat Pasricha has said that late PM Rajiv Gandhi had gone on an official trip and was not accompanied by any foreigner. However, I will agree that they had gone for vacation in Lakshadweep, that holiday vacation was very famous, but as far as using INS Viraat as 'personal taxi' is claimed, there is nothing as such. Modi ji also travels all over the world, he has spent 6 thousand crores on his foreign trips, when he had gone to Jim Corbett and done a photo shoot, was it his own money?"
However, his claims are in contrast to Commander VK Jaitly who was then posted on INS Viraat. Talking to Republic TV, Commander VK Jaitly had said:
"I was witness to the entire episode. A room was readied in the admiral’s cabin for the Gandhis. It’s true that the Gandhis used INS Viraat to head towards Lakshadweep. It’s not a small thing. Vice Admiral Pasricha was our commanding officer. He would know about the foreigners. The warship was anchored off Lakshadweep. It’s was not a small fleet. We were told they were coming to ship and that it would sail to Bangaram. One admiral room was readied. The ship went to Kochi to pick them up. They stayed overnight."
He then added: "After that, they left towards Lakshadweep on a chopper. They did stay on a ship. The ship anchored nearby Bangaram. The aircraft carrier never sails alone. Several Naval ships accompanied. Resources were used."
Prime Minister Modi had claimed on Wednesday in his poll rally at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan that the Nehru-Gandhi family misused and insulted the INS Viraat after former PM Rajiv Gandhi used the warship to bring his in-laws for their vacation at an island.
"Congress' naamdaar family had misused the pride of the country, INS Viraat, like its personal taxi. They had insulted it. This incident is of that time when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country and they had gone out on vacation for 10 days. During that time, INS Viraat was stationed to guard the maritime boundaries, but it was sent to bring the Gandhi family who was going on vacation. After that, INS Viraat had stopped at a special island with their entire family. It was there for 10 days. Among those who were holidaying with Rajiv Gandhi were his in-laws," PM Modi added.
Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has not responded directly on INS Viraat charge by the PM but has said: "You want to talk about Rajiv Gandhi, you want to talk about me, you can talk all you want. But make the citizens understand what you did in the Rafale matter. You tell the citizens what happened about the promise of employment that you made to the two crore people."