Amid the raging controversy over the accusation levelled by PM Narendra Modi against former PM Rajiv Gandhi, NCP president Sharad Pawar, who was also a former Union defence minister, on Thursday countered the charges.
At an election rally earlier this week, Modi accused Rajiv Gandhi of using the now decommissioned warship INS Viraat as his “personal taxi” for a vacation during his term in office.
Hours after Vice Admiral (retd) Vinod Pasricha, who was commanding the ship during the then Prime Minister’s visit, rebutted Modi’s claim, contending that the “former PM was travelling to Lakshadweep on official duty to chair a meeting of the IDA (Islands Development Authority)”, Pawar said, “What’s wrong with a country’s PM using a warship to travel.” Referring to official trips he would have as a defence minister, Pawar said, “I have myself used warships to travel to Andaman and other places. You get to know more about how such warships operate that way.”
He was interacting with newspersons on the sidelines of a function in Satara. Pawar also lashed out at Modi over the latter’s “bhrastachari (corrupt) number 1” barb at Rajiv Gandhi. “It does not behove the Prime Minister to stoop low and make such remarks about a person who isn’t alive,” said Pawar.
“Rajiv Gandhi’s death was heart-wrenching. Gandhi family has given two PMs to the nation. Both of them were assassinated. The family has made such a big sacrifice for the nation. It does not behove (the PM) to use such language,” he said.
Pawar added, “What is he (Modi) talking? What level is he stooping to? This is unfortunate.”
Continuing to raise the EVM bogey, Pawar said, “I’m worried about EVMs. I myself had a bitter experience. Some people from Hyderabad and Gujarat had come with some machines. When I pressed NCP’s button, I’ve myself seen the vote going to the BJP. I’m not saying this would be the case with all the machines. That’s why we (the Opposition) had moved court, demanding counting of 50 per cent of the VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) slips. But unfortunately, our plea was shot down.”