Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Rajiv Gandhi’s name in one of his speeches, associating him with corruption, information on his irregularities are emerging out. The citizens and the politicians are digging deeper to understand more about the legacy of the grand old party. During one such delf, PM Modi enlightened the people as to the usage of INS Viraat by the Nehru-Gandhi family for their extended family vacation. Jeopardizing the country’s defensive systems, the group had engaged the warship for a period of 10 days during their idyllic vacation in an uninhabited island of Lakshadweep. While the entire nation was expressing disgust at the incident, The Print founder, Shekhar Gupta, has come out justifying the Gandhi family’s act.
This incident occurred back in 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country. He had taken a new year vacation to the uninhabited island of Bangaram in the beautiful Lakshadweep islands for 10 days along with an entourage that included his immediate family, friends of Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi’s mother and siblings along with their families and children, The Bachan family, family of Bijendra Singh who is the brother of the former union minister Arun Singh, along with a couple of foreigners.
Rajiv Gandhi during the sunny vacation had incurred quite a bit of an expense, courtesy of his large entourage. The trip was borne at the government expense as the food was provided by the Society for the Promotion of Recreation, Tourism and (Water) Sports (SPORTS) which is a wing of the Lakshadweep administration. Apart from the food, five of the society’s personnel, including two cooks, were stationed at Bangaram.
However, the real eyebrow raiser is the use of India’s premier warship, INS Viraat, for transportation purposes by the Gandhis. Its daily expenditure at sea is astronomical as the Viraat travels with an entire retinue of escort ships, and knowing this, the warship was moved in the Arabian Sea for 10 days by the Gandhis. A submarine was also reported to be in attendance. This move had led to a lot of criticism back in the day with defence experts questioning the justification of depriving the navy of its most effective fighting component merely to cater to the Nehru-Gandhi holiday plans. Not only was it sheer wastage of the national resources but also a disregard of the country’s defensive systems. Moreover, considerable expense by the government was also incurred in setting up a special satellite link for communication purposes at Agatti (an island in Lakshadweep), for the duration of the holiday.
In light of all this, while the citizens are reeling in the shock of the gross misappropriation of the country’s resources, Shekhar Gupta has attempted to justify the usage of INS Virat by the Gandhis.
He said, “All our PMs were either too old or single. Rajiv Gandhi had and his family had a modern elite lifestyle so hence they were entitled to go for vacations. Moreover, he has stated that since Rajiv Gandhi had become the Prime Minister at a very early age. He didn’t have any idea about the country and its people as he hadn’t lived in India. So therefore, in his naivety he had many insensitive mistakes.”
This justification of Shekhar Gupta is abhorrent. By stating that Rajiv Gandhi as a young leader deserved vacations, Gupta is absolutely right. However, what is incomprehensible and unjustifiable is the use of India’s defence warship, the INS Viraat for personal vacations. Defense resources are to be used in defending the country and a Gandhi family and friend’s vacation was in no way related to the defence of the country. They voluntarily indulged in a personal vacation in their capacity as individuals, not representing the country. Secondly, to further justify the insensitive act of the erstwhile Prime Minister, Shekhar Gupta states that since he didn’t know the people, he had a little time adjusting to country. This is absolutely senseless as any prudent person would know it’s wrong to use the state’s resources for personal pleasure. Moreover, this is further reinforcing the dynastic ideology of the Congress that they declared someone such as Rajiv Gandhi, who is unaware of the country, as the Prime Minister candidate just because he was the son of Indira Gandhi. What kind of a prime minister of a democratic country can claim that he “didn’t know the people”?
Normally, a person understands the country first and then becomes the prime minister. According to Shekhar Gupta, in Rajiv Gandhi’s case, he first became the prime minister and then started learning more about the country he was supposed to govern and lead.
Nevertheless, any excuse or justification attributed to the Gandhi family’s blatant unethical use of a premiere Indian warship in the name of INS Viraat for a vacation is completely senseless. There is no grey area here. The act was completely wrong and portrayed just how much the sense of entitlement and delusion of grandeur prevails in the Nehru-Gandhi family.