Nirmala denied knowledge of a claim by Admiral Ramdas (Retd.) that in 1987 no warship was used by Rajiv Gandhi’s family.
New Delhi: A full-blown controversy broke out on Thursday over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation that Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat as a “personal taxi” with former Navy Chief Admiral L. Ramdas (Retd.) rejecting it and the charge becoming fodder for a political slugfest between the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress alleged that Mr Modi is a “serial liar” who has made Indian Air Force (IAF) jets his “own taxi” and party president Rahul Gandhi dared the Prime Minister to also talk about Rafael jet deal and unemployment while mentioning issues related to his father.
The BJP hit back with defence minister Nirmala Sitaraman saying in Bhopal that she respects Rajiv Gandhi as a martyr but they have a right to question the former Prime Minister’s decisions.
“What happened on INS Viraat is known to everyone and it is in the public domain. The clear misuse of the Army, Navy and Air Force by the Congress is well known but now they’re (Congress) shedding crocodile tears asking whether Prime Minister Modi is misusing the name of the military,” Ms Sitharaman said.
She denied knowledge of a claim by Admiral Ramdas (Retd.) that in 1987 no warship was used by Rajiv Gandhi’s family.
Joining his party colleague in attacking the Gandhis, finance minister Arun Jaitley tweeted, “The kaamdars use India’s naval assets to strike at terror. The Naamdars use them for personal vacations with family and in-laws.”
Mr Modi often uses the word “naamdar” to refer to the members of the Gandhi family, and “kaamdar” for people who work hard for the nation.
A day after Mr Modi fired yet another salvo targeting his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi”, Rahul Gandhi said, “If you talk about my father also do talk about Rafael and unemployment.”
The Congress president said, “Explain what have you done on the Rafale issue. You should also explain to the people your unkept promise of two crore jobs for the youth.”
“Did you give farmers the right price for their produce? Did you put `15 lakh into bank accounts?” Rahul Gandhi said, claiming that the BJP government had not fulfilled its election promises.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked Mr Modi. She said in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgargh that she has never seen “a more coward and weak” Prime Minister than him.
“Insey bada kayar, insey kamjor Pradhan Mantri main jeevan me nahi dekha, (I haven’t seen a more coward and weaker PM than him in my life),” she said.
The Congress described the Prime Minister as a “serial liar” and accused him of making IAF jets his “own taxi”.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha (Retd.) has clarified that Rajiv Gandhi was on an official visit on INS Viraat and not on a vacation.
“But facts don’t matter to Modi. He doesn’t have anything to talk about his own achievements.Rahul Gandhi has been challenging him for the last six months now to debate on the Rafale deal, demonetisation, unemployment, but Modi does not have the courage to speak,” he said at a press conference in Delhi.
While addressing an election rally in Delhi on Wednesday, Mr Modi had cited an old media report to allege that Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat to go on a holiday with his friends and in-laws as if it was his “personal taxi”.
Contradicting Mr Modi, Wajahat Habibullah, who was the then administrator of Lakshwadeep, said the late Prime Minister and his wife had come to attend a meeting of the Island Development Authority in Kavaratti which lasted for two days and after the official work got over, they left for Bangaram island to join the family and other guests.
Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses etc all. Happy reading.