New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat ‘as a taxi for a personal holiday’, the Naval officers who were on board the ship that day have refuted all allegations. Also Read - Give Concrete Solutions, Not Plain Speeches: Congress Slams PM Modi Over His Address to Nation
Former Navy chief Admiral (Retd) L Ramdas issued a statement quashing the claim made by the Prime Minister at Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan on Wednesday relating to a visit made by the erstwhile PM. His letter in bold read, “I would like to state unequivocally that this was not the case.” Also Read - Anticipating Backlash, BJP Turns Off 'Dislike' Button on YouTube Channel Amid PM Modi's Address to The Nation
Modi on Wednesday had said, “It was sent to take Rajiv Gandhi and his family to an island for their holiday. Even his in-laws were onboard INS Virat. Was it not a compromise of national security?” “Even Navy personnel was put on service of Rajiv Gandhi and his family while they were vacationing on the island. INS Viraat was also stationed at the island for ten days.” Also Read - Government Working to Ensure Every Citizen Gets COVID-19 Vaccine: PM Modi in Address to Nation
Vice Admiral (Retd) Vinod Pasricha, who was commanding the ship during the then prime minister’s visit, said all protocols were followed during Gandhi’s official trip in 1987, adding no foreigners or other guests were present. “The claim was totally wrong,” said Vice Admiral (retd) Pasricha.
Former Navy Chief Ramdas, who was the Southern Navy Commander, in a statement, said no foreigners visited INS Viraat and that Rajiv Gandhi and his wife were on board the aircraft carrier following all official protocol.
“Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi were embarked on board INS Viraat off Trivandrum en route Lakshwadeep. The Prime Minister was at Trivandrum as chief guest for the National Games prize distribution,” the former Navy Chief said.
“He was going to Lakshadweep on official duty, to chair a meeting of IDA (Islands Development Authority). This meeting is held alternately in Lakshadweep and in Andamans,” he said.
Admiral Ramdas, added, “There were no foreigners with them. I, as Flag officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Naval Command, based in Cochin, also boarded INS Viraat.”
With PTI inputs