INS Viraat row: Congress denies PM's allegation against Rajiv Gandhi

May 9 (AZINS) The war of words between the Congress and the BJP turned shriller on Wednesday as the opposition party hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he accused Rajiv Gandhi of using warship INS Viraat as a "personal taxi" for a family holiday, saying he is spreading "canards and lies" due to "imminent defeat".

Seeking to turn the tables on Modi, the Congress accused him of misusing IAF aircraft for his poll campaign.The opposition party addressed three press conferences during the day to rebut Modi's allegations and cited statements of three former Navy Vice Admirals, who claimed that then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was on an official visit to Lakshadweep when he also visited INS Viraat. They also claimed that there was no foreigner on board the Naval warship.

The party charged Modi with being a "serial liar", dubbed him a "Master of Dis-Iinformation" and his party as "Bahut Jhooth Party" (BJP), and said he is "demeaning" the office of the Prime Minister."Lies, propaganda and canards can never succeed beyond a very short shelf-life. Truth has to triumph. Howsoever much the 'Bahut Jhooth Party' will try to spread disinformation, the people of India know the truth," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters on Thursday, alleging Modi was spreading "lies" about former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi but people of India will not be swayed by such statements.

The Congress leader accused Modi of "demeaning" the office of Prime Minister and said "you have regressed far from progressing".He said the party reserves its legal rights "in respect to this falsehood. We reserve our rights to go to Election Commission. But, the point remains, this government, this Prime Minister, this set of people governing us have been shamefully exposed." The Congress attack came on a day when the Supreme Court set to rest the issue of Rahul Gandhi's citizenship by dismissing a petition on it.

Singhvi asked what relation does Rajiv Gandhi's visit to a naval ship have "in 2019, to the issue of jobs he promised in the air and to agricultural distress or demonetization which crushed our MSMEs".He said people know when a party revives a citizenship issue in the middle of elections after five years in power, "without a shred of legal or factual finding against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, it's proving their own frustration on knowing their defeat".

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said abusing a "martyred prime minister" is the sign of "ultimate cowardice"."Rajiv ji lost his life due to their hatred and is no longer here amongst us to answer the baseless allegations and abuses which are being unleashed on him. Abusing a martyred prime minister is the sign of ultimate cowardice," Patel tweeted.

"But who is responsible for his assassination? The BJP backed V P Singh government refused to provide him with additional security and left him with one PSO despite credible intelligence inputs and repeated requests," he alleged.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, "Modiji tells us that 30 years ago Rajiv Gandhi went for a holiday in INS Viraat. The prime minister is a serial liar. A senior official has exposed his lies today."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."

Singhvi said this kind of "disinformation" is not new to Modi as he and his government "hold a Guinness record on lies and propaganda." "I ask you Mr Prime Minister, when will this stop, when will this distortion, falsehood, fakehood, stop? We know that you will not apologise although you should immediately. Forget Shri Rahul Gandhi and forget the late lamented, dead Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, but, at least apologise to this nation," Singhvi said.

The Congress leader alleged that these attempts are to "divert, digress and derail the real issues -- MSMEs, demonetisation, agricultural distress, Rafale, jobs. We know that you will try to derail them, but, a time has come, when you should stand exposed, your Government should stand expose." Singhvi said that if Raja Harishchandra is a symbol of truth in this country, "with the kind of lies, lies and lies, repeated day in and day out, by no less than the Prime Minister, unfortunately, he and that post has become the symbol of falsehood and untruthfulness." He said it was sad day for India when that position and seat becomes a "symbol of falsehood", claiming that three Vice-Admirals, Arun Prakash Pasricha, Madanjit Singh and Ramdas have rebutted PM's claims and recalled unanimously about the events of 32 years ago.

"It is nothing but Mr Modi and the BJP trying to hide their failures. It is abject acceptance and surrender to defeat, knowing the internal reports and the booth reports of the 5 phases," he said.