Remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi of using INS Viraat for vacation was denied by the then commanding Officer of INS Viraat, Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha, who commanded the Viraat in December, 1987.
Pasricha also denied that his friends and in-laws were with him.
The Vice Admiral speaking to NDTV stated that the former PM visted Lakshadweep for official purpose, which was a meeting with the Island Development Authority . He was accompanied by his wife Sonia Gandhi, son Rahul Gandhi and a few IAS officers.
Pasricha stated that “This politicisation of the armed forces is wrong and unacceptable”.
Giving an account of the visit’s schedule, the Vice Admiral narrated, ”We travelled from Trivandrum, where we had taken them onboard on helicopter because Trivandrum does not have a jetty to berth Viraat. On the islands, he (Rajiv Gandhi) had to go for a number of meetings. He visited three islands by helicopter and I think two or three islands on the second day by helicopter,” Vice Admiral Pasricha said. ”He visited Bangaram island for about two hours on the morning of the second day (of his visit). And they had lunch there and then came back.”
Adding more substance to Pasricha’s denial, the then Commander-in-chief of the Western Fleet, Admiral L Ramdas, who was also on board at the time narrated similar events.
Issuing a statement, which was combined after former Admiral Arun Prakash, Vice Admiral Pasricha and Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh, who were serving in the Western Fleet at that time, Pasricha said that PM’s allegations were based on a report by Anita Pratap on India Today and to which he added, “I would like to state unequivocally, that this was not the case” .
Further, “No ships were specifically diverted for the personal use of the Gandhi family. Only one small helicopter was left at Kavratti to meet any emergency medical requirements of the PM and his wife,” said the statement.
(Featured Image: The Hindu)