Objecting PM Narendra Modi’s allegation that Rajiv Gandhi and his family used INS Viraat as a ”personal taxi” for a holiday, Vice Admiral (Retd) Vinod Pasricha said the then PM and his wife Sonia Gandhi were onboard the warship for an official two-day tour.
Pasricha, who was in-charge of INS Viraat during Rajiv Gandhi’s 1984-89 tenure as PM, said all protocols were followed at the time and that no foreigners or other guests were present. “Nobody was on a holiday. Only Rahul Gandhi was with his family. No foreigner was with the PM,” he said.
In his first election rally in Delhi on May 8 at Ramlila Miadan, Modi had accused the Gandhi family of using INS Viraat as its “personal taxi”, launching a fresh attack on the late Congress leader days after throwing the “bhrashtachari no 1” barb at him.
The then government led by Gandhi and the Navy hosted his family, including in-laws, and a helicopter was also deployed in their service, Modi claimed, adding that when a family becomes supreme, the country’s security is at stake.
“INS Viraat was insulted by using it as a personal taxi. This happened when Rajiv Gandhi and his family was out for a 10-day vacation. INS Viraat was deployed for securing our maritime boundary. But it was diverted to take the Gandhi family which was out for a vacation,” Modi said.
He also claimed that after picking up the Gandhi family, INS Viraat halted at an island for 10 days.
“Rajiv Gandhi was accompanied by his in-laws who had come from Italy. Question is whether the security of the country was not compromised by taking foreigners onboard a warship,” he asked.
Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera on Thursday reacted on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat for vacations remark. Countering the attack, he said that Vice-Admiral Vinod Pasricha debunked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark.
He also slammed PM Modi by terming him a liar. On May 08, PM Modi accused then Prime Minster late Rajiv Gandhi of using aircraft carrier INS Viraat for his personnel vacations with his foreigner in-laws.
Two former Navy Chiefs have also confirmed that Rajiv Gandhi never misused the Indian naval aircraft carrier Viraat.
Aircraft carrier INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987. After nearly 30 years of service, it was decommissioned in 2016.