New Delhi: Firing a fresh salvo of misuse of power by Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that the former prime minister used warship INS Virat as a ‘private taxi’ for holidaying. Modi questioned whether using Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier for a personal use of Gandhi was not akin to compromising national security. PM Modi launched this fresh attack on the Congress dynasty while addressing a gathering at the Ramlila Maidan, Delhi.

“Have you ever heard that someone used INS Virat to enjoy the holiday? It happened when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of this country. INS Virat, which was deployed on sea borders, was sent for a holiday for 10 days,” Prime Minister Modi said during the rally.

Prime Minister Modi added that Rajiv Gandhi took his parents-in-law along on the vacation onboard INS Virat. Rajiv Gandhi's parents-in-law were Italian citizens.

“Foreigners were allowed to enter INS Virat. Was it not a compromise with national security?” Modi said.

Modi further alleged that even Navy personnel were put on service of Rajiv Gandhi and his family while they were vacationing on an island. “INS Virat was stationed at the island for 10 days during that time,” he said.

According to some reports, Gandhi family and his VIP guests went for a 10-day vacation to an uninhabited island of Bangaram in Lakshadweep, nestling in the emerald blue Arabian Sea 465 km west of Cochin in 1987.

Modi said that the government of the time and the Navy were forced to make sure that Rajiv Gandhi’s family has a comfortable holiday. The island was strategically chosen so that the guests remain inaccessible to media and the local populace.

Modi alleged that a special naval helicopter was made available for 24 hours for their service.

According to sources, on December 26 that year, Rajiv Gandhi, along with four friends, reached the isolated island by a Lakshadweep administration helicopter.

Sources claim that the holiday guest list included four friends of Rahul and Priyanka, Sonia Gandhi's sister, brother-in-law and their daughter, her widowed mother, R Maino, her brother and a maternal uncle.

During the holiday, the Nehru-Gandhi family was joined by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya and their children. The only other Indian guests were the wife and daughter of Bijendra Singh, brother of former Union minister Arun Singh.

Sources said that the guests flew to the island from Cochin by a special helicopter. “It is impossible to calculate what the bill might have been, as various agencies were involved.  India’s premier warship at that point of time, INS Virat, was used to transport the Nehru-Gandhi family and move about in the Arabian Sea for 10 days. The daily expenditure at sea is astronomical as INS Virat travels with an entire retinue of escort ships,” said a source.

The guests also went on picnics to two other uninhabited islands nearby, Thinnakara and Parali.

According to sources, as the island was isolated, the local administration arranged for the food for Gandhis’ guests from the Society for the Promotion of Recreation, Tourism and (Water) Sports (SPORTS), a wing of the Lakshadweep administration. Their food menu was supervised by the Rajiv Gandhi’s personal cook from New Delhi.

Sources disclosed that a consignment of wines and liquor was brought in from the capital. A poultry farm with 100 chickens was set up for the guests.

Interestingly, the guests, during their stay at the isolated island, were served freshly caught fish, island fruits like the Lakshadweep papaya, sapota, small yellow bananas, and guavas. Butter and some 100 loaves of bread were despatched from Kavaratti. From Cochin came Cadbury’s chocolates, 40 crates of cold drinks, 300 bottles of mineral water, Amul cheese, cashewnuts, sweet lime, condiments, 20 kg of flour, 105 kg of basmati rice and fresh vegetables.