Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stoked a fresh controversy by pulling out an old India Today article citing how late PM Rajiv Gandhi used the INS Viraat, a naval warship, to go on a holiday. Wajahat Habibullah, who was the then administrator of Lakshwadeep, has now told India Today TV that INS Viraat was indeed stationed in Lakshwadeep but the Gandhis were not holidaying aboard the ship.
A retired IAS officer, Habibullah remembered how Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi landed in Lakshwadeep in a government chopper. He said, “INS Viraat was in the sea for the PM’s backup security. The Prime Minister needs backup security and in the middle of the ocean, there’s no other option other than warships.”
He added, “Rajiv Gandhi went to Lakshwadeep on an official meeting and decided to stay back when his guests also joined him. No foreigner or even the guests were allowed onboard INS Viraat.”
Habibullah then went on to slam PM Narendra Modi for raking up the issue, which he said is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. “It is a violation of the MCC if you go about making unverified statements. I would like my colleagues in the Election Commission to take note of this,” he added.