INS Viraat incident: Even naval officers debunk PM Modi’s claim
Even officers of Indian Navy have debunked the tasteless and false allegation that Rajiv Gandhi had used the aircraft carrier as a private taxi
Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s ‘lie’ that late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had used INS Viraat, Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier, as a private taxi on a vacation to Lakshadweep in December, 1987, has been exposed by naval officers who were on duty at the time.
While Vice Admiral (Rtd) Vinod Pasricha told Network 18 that the allegation was incorrect, several retired officers of the Indian Navy have come forward to debunk the false claim.
Based on their statements, what becomes clear is this:
- The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Trivandrum on an official visit as chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony of the National Games.
- The Prime Minister was scheduled to visit Lakshadweep also on an official visit to attend the meeting of the Islands Development Authority. The meetings of the IDA were held alternately in Andaman & Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep and it was the turn of Lakshadweep to host it.
- INS Viraat picked up Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his spouse from Trivandrum and not from Mangalore.
- Besides the two, there was no member of the Prime Minister’s family and certainly not foreigners.
- The aircraft carrier dropped the Prime Minister and his spouse at Lakshadweep and left.
- The officers also claim that the Western Fleet of the Indian Navy had planned its naval exercises long before the PM’s programme was fixed and that INS Viraat was in the vicinity in connection with the naval exercises.
- No ship of the Indian Navy was specially diverted for the Prime Minister although a helicopter was put on stand by for any medical emergency.
- After the official functions were over, Rajiv Gandhi did extend his stay for a vacation but his foreign relatives availed of the private helicopter service offered by Pawan Hans to reach Lakshadweep.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s baseless allegations in poor taste were slammed on the micro blogging site Twitter and people were quick to point out that Modi himself has been using IAF planes for his election campaign and on his foreign visits.
Referring to Modi’s February visit to Corbett National Park for a photo shoot—on the day a suicide bomber killed 44 CRPF jawans at Pulwama in Kashmir—a user tweeted, “Vajpayee used to take his son in law for Shimla holidays in an Indian Air Force aircraft Modi used IAF choppers to go to photo shoot locations and his party’s programs”
Congress leaders and others also condemned Modi’s statement.