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Was INS Viraat used as a personal taxi by Rajiv Gandhi?

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New Delhi, Sep 02: Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned the INS Vikrant at Kochi. In the backdrop of this historic and strategically important event, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that India's 1st indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant commissioned today is a collective effort of all governments since 1999. Will PM acknowledge, he asked.

Was INS Viraat used as a personal taxi by Rajiv Gandhi?

The original INS Vikrant that served India well in 1971 and Krishna Menon played a key rollin getting it from the United Kingdom.

INS Vikrant, a collective effort of all govts since 1999: CongressINS Vikrant, a collective effort of all govts since 1999: Congress

When the Navy spoke about the need for modernisation of the free, the UPA's defence minister A K Antony had said on record in Parliament that there is no money for modernisation of defence forces and their equipments.

One also have to bear in mind that the original INS Vikrant was from the UK while this is an indigenous one, which means it is made in India. In 2022 India is exporting Make in India defence products worth 40,000 crore and have built a Indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

Its making has been a collective effort from 1999 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.

Questions are being asked on why the Congress did not make efforts to build and commission it onto Seaboard. One of the reasons for that could be insufficient provisions for funding by the UPA government on the defence sector. This is one the aspects that led to the delay in the commissioning.

Now coming to the raging controversy about former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi using INS Vikrant as a personal taxi. A report in the Indian Express dated December 30 1987 notes, 'it is understood that the prime minister is planning to host a new year's party aboard a ship. In 1988 an Indian Express report confirmed that eight foreigners joined the PM and his family during their New Year holiday.

Re-introduced in 2004 with an excuse, Navy ensign finally does away with St George's CrossRe-introduced in 2004 with an excuse, Navy ensign finally does away with St George's Cross

The report further said that according to reliable sources among the Indian Navy vessels performing various duties in connection with the holiday were aircraft carrier INS Viraat, the frigates INS Vindhyagiri and INS Taragiri, and the landing craft carrier 39 INS Magar. The Lakshadweep Administration's oil tankers MT Suheli and MT Bharat were also there. Passenger liners like MV Bharatseema and research vessels like Sagardeep had been taken off their regular duty and put on the holiday tasks," the report also said.

There was recreation aplenty as the Prime Minister and his party went swimming and boating and tuna fishing in the seas. Kabaddi with men and women lined up against each other provided the Indian touch. The New Year night was marked by a firelit party on the sand, a 1988 report 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, Commander V K Jaitly said in a tweet dated May 9 2019.

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Lieutenant Commander Harinder Sikka another retired navy officer told Times Now that the Gandhis using naval resources was not appreciated by the naval officers but they were forced to remain quiet.

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