PM is a 'serial liar': Congress
New Delhi: Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleging that late Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat as "personal taxi" on a family vacation, the Congress on Thursday said, "He (Modi) is a "serial liar" who does not have the courage to fight elections on issues such as unemployment and demonetisation."
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said that retired Indian Navy Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha has clarified that the then Prime Minister 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 Rafale deal, demonetisation, unemployment, but Modi does not have the courage to speak," Khera said while talking to reporters at a press conference.
Taking a swipe at Modi for making allegations against Rajiv Gandhi who is no more, Khera said has anyone read about former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saying that his next election will be against Mughal emperor Humayun or Indira Gandhi making her entire campaign against Queen Victoria.
"We are now hearing that. Modi ji tells us that 30 years ago Rajiv Gandhi went for a holiday in INS Viraat. Prime Minister is a serial liar. A senior official has exposed his lies. Vice Admiral (retd) Vinod Pasricha appeared on channels some time back and stated that this is a lie and the then PM was on an official visit and not on a holiday," he said.
Khera further said that Modi is the first Prime Minister who asks for votes on his "failures" and Pulwama was an example of this.
"It was a big intelligence failure. We lost our soldiers due to this monumental failure in internal security," Khera alleged. The Congress leader also dared Modi to name the people he takes on foreign trips.
"We have seen the campaign, there has been no mention of demonetisation. But you tremble when it is mentioned and hide behind Rajiv Gandhi," he said
Khera also slammed the Prime Minister for raising the Bofors issue saying it was a BJP-led government at the Centre when the Delhi High Court gave a clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi. It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government that decided against appealing the order, he said, adding, "We will debate on Bofors provided you are ready to debate on Rafale."
Wajahat Habibullah, who was the then administrator of Lakshwadeep, has also stated that INS Viraat was indeed stationed in Lakshwadeep but the Gandhis were not holidaying aboard the ship.
Habibullah, a retired IAS officer, recalled how Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi landed in Lakshwadeep in a government chopper. "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." Agreeing with Habibullah's comments, former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas said that no ships were "specially diverted" for the personal use of the Gandhi family, neither were there any foreigners.
Ramdas further added that he also has a picture of that day. "The prime minister was at Trivandrum as a chief guest for National Games prize distribution. He was going to Lakshadweep on official duty to chair a meeting of Islands Development Authority. This meet held alternately in Lakshadweep and Andamans... I then hosted a dinner for the prime minister that night. And there is a photo to confirm this," he said in a statement.