Supporting PM Modi's allegation against late former PM Rajiv Gandhi using India's aircraft carrier 'INS Viraat as a personal taxi', Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Thursday, has said that it is the Congress which has continuously misused the defence resources and should answer these allegations, while addressing a news briefing in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
"On the INS Viraat issue, information regarding it has been spreading since a long time. In a 2013 news report too, a detailed explanation has been given. We all know the entire case's details. What the new government will do about it, I can't comment on. But such blatant misusers of Army, Navy, and Air Force - the Congress Party, who is today shedding crocodile tears that PM Modi is politicizing the Army, should answer this allegation first," she said.
When asked about a recent news report where Retd. Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha had claimed that PM Modi's allegations were untrue, Sitharaman referred to a 2013 news report which had detailed the misuse adding that a crew on INS Viraat had also confirmed the allegations to her staff.
"It is not just my comment, as you refer to some colleague who denies the charge that 'Rajiv Gandhi used INS Virat as a personal taxi', please refer the 2013 article detailing it. Have you filed a rejoinder against the journalist who wrote that report? A crew in the INS Virat confirms this charge to my staff saying its all true that the Rajiv Gandhi family along with his in-laws travelled on the aircraft carrier INS Viraat."
Speaking about whether BJP was insulting the former PM Rajiv Gandhi, she said that while they respected his martyrdom, questions would definitely be raised by them against his corruption referring to the Bhopal gas tragedy.
"Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of this nation. We all know under what circumstances, he became a martyr for which we respect him. That does not mean that we cannot talk about the corruption, misrule during his governance and about Bhopal where during the gas tragedy, his (Rajiv Gandhi) government facilitated Anderson to fly away from this country. Is there any restriction in talking about that? So please do not mix up issues. Where we need to give respect, we know to give it. But question we will and I demand answers out of Congress on that."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made sensational allegations against former PM Rajiv Gandhi by stating that the Indian Navy's former flagship INS Viraat (now decommissioned) was used by him and his in-laws as a "personal taxi", while addressing a rally at New Delhi's Ramlila Maidan.
"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 said.
Previously, PM Modi during his speech on May 4 while accusing the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi of alleging scam in the acquisition of Rafale aircraft only to tarnish his image, took made a reference to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"Your father was termed 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his life ended as 'Bhrashtachari No 1' (corrupt number 1)," he said.