Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala (File Photo)
Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his allegation that late Rajiv Gandhi used warship INS Viraat as his "personal taxi", the Congress on Thursday accused the former of using Indian Air Force jets as his "own taxi" for election trips and paying "as low as Rs 744".
Citing a media report to attack PM Modi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said: "Distraction and fakery is your last resort. You have made Indian Air Force jets your own Taxi! You have paid as low as Rs 744 for using IAF jets for election trips!"
"Scared of your own sins haunting u, you are shamelessly pointing fingers on others!" he added in his tweet.
The media report, based on an RTI, said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) paid a total of Rs 1.4 crore to the IAF for 240 "non-official domestic trips" made by Modi since the start of his tenure as prime minister till January 2019.
"In some cases, the amount paid seemed to be quite low. For example, the BJP paid Rs 744 for a 'H/P Balangir-H/P Patharchera' trip by Modi on January 15, 2019," the report said.
PM Modi, at a rally on Wednesday, accused the Gandhi family of using warship INS Viraat as its "personal taxi" for a holiday when Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm, launching a fresh attack on the late Congress leader days after throwing the "bhrashtachari no 1" barb at him.
"Ever imagined that a premier warship of the Indian armed forces could be used as a taxi for a personal holiday? One dynasty did it," PM Modi had asked.
The Navy was made to host the Gandhi family and Rajiv Gandhi's in-laws, and a helicopter was also deployed in their service, he claimed, adding that when a family becomes supreme, the country's security is at stake.
"INS Viraat was insulted by using it as a personal taxi. This happened when Rajiv Gandhi and his family was out for a 10-day vacation. INS Viraat was deployed for securing our maritime boundary. But it was diverted to take the Gandhi family which was out for a vacation," PM Modi had said.
In another tweet, Surjewala said that PM Modi's "lies" have been exposed by "Adm L Ramdass,Ex Chief of Naval Staff & then Fleet Officer,Commanding-In-Chief, Southern Naval Command -V Adm Vinod Pasricha,Commanding Officer,INS Viraat -Wajahat Habibullah, Adminstrator,Lakshadweep."
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said 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.(Congress president) Rahul Gandhi has been challenging him for the last six months now to debate on the Rafale deal, demonetisation, unemployment, but Modi does not have the courage to speak," he said at a press conference.
Taking a swipe at Modi for making allegations against Rajiv Gandhi, Khera asked has any one 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.
"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," he said.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters on Thursday, adding to the long list of name calling by parties against each other in the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
Singhvi alleged that PM Modi was spreading disinformation and lies about former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi taking his family on INS Viraat when he was in office and quoted former Navy chief Admiral (Retd.) L Ramdas and other Naval officers of the time that Gandhi was on an official visit then.
"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," he told reporters, adding that the 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 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 demonetisation which crushed our MSMEs".