Prime Minister Narendra Modi's allegation that Rajiv Gandhi used INS Viraat as a personal taxi was rejected by former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas (retd) as well as by a former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier.
Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha (Retd), who was commanding the ship during the then prime minister's visit, said all protocols were followed during Gandhi's official trip in 1987, adding no foreigners or other guests were present.
Addressing an election rally in New Delhi on Wednesday, Modi said the former prime minister used INS Viraat as a private taxi and his in-laws were on board the aircraft carrier.
"The claim was totally wrong," said Vice Admiral Pasricha (retd).
However, another former Navy Commander V K Jaitly (retd), in a tweet, said, 'Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi used INS Viraat for travel to celebrate their holidays at Bangaram island. Indian Navy resources were used extensively. I am a witness. I was posted on INS Viraat that time.'
Former Navy Chief Ramdas, who was the Southern Navy Commander, in a statement, said no foreigners visited INS Viraat and that Rajiv Gandhi and his wife were on board the aircraft carrier following all official protocol.
'Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi were embarked on board INS Viraat off Trivandrum en route Lakshwadeep. The prime minister was at Trivandrum as chief guest for the National Games prize distribution,' the former Navy chief said.
'He was going to Lakshadweep on official duty, to chair a meeting of IDA (Islands Development Authority). This meeting is held alternately in Lakshadweep and in Andamans,' he said.
Admiral Ramdas, added, 'There were no foreigners with them. I, as Flag officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Naval Command, based in Cochin, also boarded INS Viraat.'
Another former senior Navy officer also termed Modi's claim as 'untrue'.
"Due to such claims, even the truth coming from such people (Modi) would be seen as fake information," Vice Admiral I C Rao (Retd) said in Mumbai.
Rao, who was the admiral superintendent of the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai in 1987, said, "It is very bad for politicians to make such allegations. I feel that with such continued series of claims, even the true information would be seen as fake."
"Such statements are aimed at swaying the voters. I feel the voters should ignore such claims and exercise their right," Rao said.
"Rajiv Gandhi along with his family boarded the ship from Thiruvananthapuram to stay aboard for three days.
"Lakshadweep island is almost 220 nautical miles from land and helicopter was the only means of transportation then available, so he used the air service from Viraat," he said.
"He organised a dinner on board the ship for the ship's crew. It is very bad to spread fake information for some political gain," he said.
"I am not a fan of Rajiv Gandhi or his policies, I do not want Navy or any other establishment to be used for political gains," Rao said.