- PM Modi said Rajiv Gandhi, family were sent for vacation on Navy ship
- The ship was positioned for protection of maritime boundaries, he added
- Even his in-laws were onboard INS Virat, he claimed
The controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments on Rajiv Gandhi yet to die down, PM Modi targeted the former Prime Minister again. At a rally in Delhi on Wednesday, he said Rajiv Gandhi and family were sent for a vacation on board the Navy's INS Virat, contending that it had compromised national security.
The ship, PM Modi said, was positioned for protection of maritime boundaries, when it was sent to transport Rajiv Gandhi and his family to an island for their holiday. Even his in-laws were onboard INS Virat.
"Even Navy personnel were put on service of Rajiv Gandhi and his family while they were vacationing at the island. INS Virat was also stationed at the island for 10 days during that time," said the Prime Minister, who has accused the Congress and other opposition parties of neglecting national security.
He tweeted about the matter as well, enclosing a news story by India Today from 1988.
Since the February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama that killed 40 soldiers, and the subsequent air strikes at Pakistan's Balakot, the BJP has built its campaign around the theme of nationalism and national security.
The Prime Minister has been under intense criticism over his comment that Rajiv Gandhi died as "Bhrashtachari (corrupt) number 1". Most opposition leaders have condemned the statement, saying it was inappropriate of the Prime Minister to make such statements about a deceased predecessor, who had been assassinated by terrorists.
While Rahul Gandhi had responded with love and hug, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had said the Prime Minister, despite his party's nationalistic credentials, had criticised a "martyr".
The BJP had supported PM Modi's comment, contending that it was on par with calling a sitting Prime Minister "thief" which the Congress and other opposition parties were doing.
In view of the Congress outrage, the Prime Minister has challenged the party to contest the two remaining phases of the election, especially from Delhi, in the name of Rajiv Gandhi.
While the Congress had not responded, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, during her rally in Delhi today, issued a counter, "A Delhi girl is openly challenging you. Contest the last two phases on notebandi, GST, women's safety and unfulfilled promises to the youth," she said.
The Congress has complained to the Election Commission, demanding that PM Modi be banned from campaigning as penalty for denigrating Rajiv Gandhi. There has been no response yet.
So far, the Prime Minister has received six clean chits from the Commission for various remarks, which the Congress said were a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.