Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi used the warship INS Viraat for a family vacation in 1987 has triggered responses from retired Navy officers, along with the chief of Navy.
Former Chief of Navy Retired Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas has refuted PM Modi’s claims that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat for a family vacation to Lakshadweep. Ramdas, who was on board the INS Viraat as the flag officer commanding-in-chief of Southern Naval Command, said only the former prime minister and his wife Sonia Gandhi were on board the warship. They were going to Lakshadweep to chair a meeting of the Islands Development Authority in December 1987.
“No ships were specially diverted for the personal use of the Gandhi family,” Ramdas said in a statement. “Only one small helicopter was left at Kavratti to meet any emergency medical requirements of the PM and his wife.”
The retired Navy chief added that there were no foreigners with the Gandhi family and he had hosted a dinner for them on the ship. “There were no other parties held on board INS Viraat or for that matter any other ship in our fleet during that time,” he said.
In the statement, Ramdas mentions that the recounting of the events is based on the written accounts from V Admiral Pasricha, the then Captain and Commanding officer of INS Viraat; Admiral Arun Prakash, commanding INS Vindhyagiri, which was accompanying INS Viraat; and Vice Admiral Mandanjit Singh, the commanding officer of INS Ganga.
The former Navy Commander VK Jaitly (retired), however, has shared a different account. Jaitly has claimed, on a tweet, that the Gandhi family had extensively used naval resources during their holidays.
“Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi used INS Viraat for travel to celebrate their holidays at Bangaram island. Indian Navy resources were used extensively. I am a witness. I was posted on INS Viraat that time,” Jaitly tweeted.
Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi used INS Viraat for travel to celebrate their holidays at Bangaram island. Indian Navy resources were used extensively. I am a witness. I was posted on INS Viraat that time. Commander VK Jaitly
— Commander VK Jaitly (@vkjaitly) May 9, 2019
What exactly did PM Modi say?
Modi said the ‘naamdar’ family which went on a holiday on INS Viraat. “When Rajiv Gandhi was India’s prime minister, the naamdar Gandhi family went on a holiday on INS Viraat for 10 days to an island. Even his in-laws and their family members from Italy were present. This is how this family used the armed forces as their fiefdom.” “Since there was no one on the island, naval officers and Indian government were pressed into service to look after their entertainment,” he added.
“Since there was no one on the island, naval officers and Indian government were pressed into service to look after their entertainment,” he added.