It was December 26, 1988. The Prime Minister and Congress president Rajiv Gandhi had planned a 10-day holiday at Bangaram Island.
The Lakshwadeep Archipelago consists of 30-odd islands of which Bangaram is one… an uninhabited island, covering a mere half a sq km.
The Indian Navy’s aircarft carrier, INS Virat picked up the holiday-goers from Mangalore & sailed them to Karavatti, the capital of the Lakshwadeep Islands.
Let that sink in…
Not a luxury cruise ship! Not a hired, private yatch! Not a plane! But Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier!!! For full 10 days!!!
An aircraft carrier is not an ordinary ship; alone on the seas. It is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase.
It is the capital ship, heading a Carrier Battle Group, requiring exceptional protection for itself.
A vulnerable aircraft carrier is a useless white elephant. Hence, the security for an aircarft carrier is a layered, in-depth protection against all conceivable threats at sea.
There is an outer-most layer of aircraft on airborne early warning, surveillance & air defence tasks.
The next layer: anti-submarine patrols by ships as well as specialised aircraft / helicopters.
Another layer of destroyers & frigates, specifically for anti-air, anti-missile, & anti-submarine tasks.
The inner-most, close-in-defence by the systems on the carrier itself are needed.
In this case, a submarine was rumoured to be lurking around too.
The holiday-goers list included:
The PM, his Italian-born wife & 2 children
4 friends of Rahul & Priyanka
Sonia’s sister, husband & daughter
Sonia’s widowed mother
Sonia’s maternal uncle
Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya Bachchan & their 2 children
His brother Ajitabh’s daughter
Wife & daughter of Birendra Singh, brother of former Union Minister, Arun Singh
A total of:
6 Italian nationals
2 unknown foreigners
14 Indians (including Sonia, who had surrendered her Italian passport 5 years earlier)
On a joy-ride on the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier!!! Media was strictly banned anywhere in the vicinity of the island and the entire trip was very quietly arranged.
Bangaram is an uninhabited island. So, everything was set up from scratch. Even an Administration helicopter was ferried to the party. Wajahat Habeebullah, who was later made Lakshadweep administrator, was at hand for any troubleshooting as he was posted in PM’s secretariat.
The Society for the Promotion of Recreation, Tourism and Water Sports (SPORTS), a wing of the Lakshadweep administration, was at their service to provide food.
A temporary farm with 100 chickens was set-up; tons of foodstuff ferried there; two cooks worked full-time, under the personal supervision of the Gandhis’ personal cook.
Crates of liquor were brought from New Delhi, cold drinks and drinking water suppplied from Karavatti, along with the island’s choicest fruits. They were there for an idyllic 10-days of sun, sand, water in the Arabian Sea archipelago. With India’s lone aircraft carrier stationed to ferry them and ostensibly for their “security”!
There is nothing wrong in a Prime Minister taking a break from his/her hectic schedule. The US President at Camp David and Putin’s shirtless escapades come to mind.
Contrast this with our current PM, who has never taken a holiday, sleeps on overnight long-haul flights.
It is in the manner in which virtually the entire State machinery was exploited & nation’s security compromised that raises several questions and reveals why the Gandhi parivaar and their scions feel they are entitled; that the country owes it to them to take care of all their needs.
The sight of an entitled Prince celebrating his birthday on board a Chartered Aircraft with his sis, mamma & granny, then PM, pales in comparision to the Bangaram holiday.
The sense of entitlement, that put the State machinery to be at their beck and call, is mind-boggling.
Was there an outrage on the use of an aircraft carrier for a joy-ride?
Who at Naval HQ agreed to divert an entire aircraft carrier for 10 days, for private use?
Why did no one object to the presence of foreign nationals?
Who were the two unknown foreign nationals? At least now, hard questions should be asked. Have you seen media doing that?
Admiral J G Nadkarni passed away in 2018, but Navy records should reveal how the decision came by!
What security checks were made of the foreign nationals?
What was the occupation of the foreign nationals? Was Q among them?
After the vacation, the group dispersed separately, with Rahul & Rajiv going back from Karavatti to Mangalore on the INS Virat. Again!
The Gandhis are entitled to an immense sense of entitlement because, we the people of India, have placed them on a pedestal, merely because of who they are born or married to.
Till now, we have believed that it is OUR privilege & their right to be on that pedestal.
So, don’t begrudge the arrogance of Rahul & Priyanka… or their hatred towards Narendra Modi & his new India. They have been after all deprived of an India as their private jagir…
A jagir with its snake charmers, riverboat safaris, dinner with the natives, temple-hopping & other exquisite entitlements!!!
We, the people of India, have given them that exalted place. And it is time, to change that.
Our leaders MUST earn our respect… MUST work for the privilege to represent us.
And when they do, it is not a gravy train to enrichment, but an opportunity to serve.
For exquisite details of the vacation,
Also read: https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/the-big-story/story/20110117-he-met-sonia-21-times-after-rajivs-death-745483-2011-01-08