Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's allegation that Rajiv Gandhi used a Navy warship as a ‘personal taxi’ was rejected by former Indian Navy chief Admiral (retd) L Ramdas as well as by a former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier. However, another former Navy Commander V K Jaitly, in a tweet, said "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."
Vice Admiral (Retd) Vinod Pasricha, who was commanding the ship during the then Prime Minister's Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Lakshadweep islands in 1987, said on Thursday that all protocols were followed during Rajiv Gandhi's official trip and added that no foreigners or other guests were present. Addressing an election rally in Delhi on Wednesday, Modi had said Rajiv had used warship INS Viraat as a private taxi and his in-laws were onboard the aircraft carrier. "The claim was totally wrong," said Vice Admiral (retd) Pasricha.
Former Navy Chief Ramdas, who was the Southern Navy Commander said in a statement that no foreigner visited INS Viraat and that Rajiv Gandhi and his wife were onboard the aircraft carrier following all official protocol. "Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi were embarked on board INS Viraat off Trivandrum enroute 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.