We have many reasons to feel proud about INS Vikrant an Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1) which is the first aircraft carrier built in India. After long delays, the vessel is finally scheduled to be commissioned into the Indian Navy in August 2022. Flight trials of its aircraft complement are expected to be completed by mid-2023, after which the ship will be fully operational. Vikrant’s aim is “Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah” in English “I completely defeat those who dare to fight with me.” This ship is a lethal Combatant which dared the global influence of that time during a war that is fast turning out as a third world war. INS Vikrant played a vital role in giving independence to Bangladeshis from Pakistan. The Grand Old vessel with a great story to tell to the future generations of the nation she served with peerless bravery and absolute demonstration of leadership.
Can you imagine a political leader making money out of such a legendary Naval Vassal, who has created proud and brave moments in Indian history? When the vessel gracefully retired, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya and his son Neil collected Rs 57 crore funds in the name of saving INS Vikrant. Commissioned in 1961, a Majestic-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, had played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. It was decommissioned in 1997. In January 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction and scrapped in November. BJP leaders started a campaign stating he would convert the vessel into Museum and save her from getting scrapped.
Somaiya had started a campaign to raise funds for INS Vikrant. He had collected more than Rs 57 crore for the purpose. However, instead of depositing the amount to the Maharashtra governor’s secretary’s office, he embezzled the funds. The case against Kirit Somaiya and his son was filed based on a complaint lodged by a 53-year-old former Army personnel. We Indians are very sensitive towards our aircraft, ships and defence personnel. They guard us unconditionally and their bravery can’t be expressed in one article.
The irony is that since BJP came to power, they have been baking their bread on the armed forces. The Narendra Modi government politicized surgical strikes to garner votes. BJP has always used our defence forces for some or other gain. Kirit Somaiya’s gulping funds would not surprise even if it is true. Remember the Coffin ‘scam’ that ended George Fernandes’ political career. He was accused of being involved in the Coffin scam and corruption got exposed by a sting operation by the Tehelka news portal. Fernandes was the defence minister in the Vajpayee-led NDA government when India fought with — and emerged victorious against — Pakistan in the Kargil war in 1999. Bangaru Lakshman had to resign and pause his political career.
Now it’s time for Kirit Somaiya, he collected about Rs 50 crore from the people as part of a campaign to save the INS Vikrant but the fund wasn’t submitted to the state exchequer. Shiv Sena’s leader demanded a probe by the Maharashtra government against Somaiya while also claiming that it’s a fit case to be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). Such a scam is an offence against the nation. We as voters can understand economic scams by the politicians, but BJP is a serial offender. From Kargil to Pulwama’s attack the dead bodies of Indian jawans became tools for political campaigns. Even today no one knows how Pulwama happened. Ahead of the elections, many such incidents took place and our jawans lost their lives. We have also seen Bofors, Agusta Westlands and Rafale scams, all of these scams are linked to the nation’s security.
Commoner’s patriotic sentiments are misused, manipulated and misinterpreted for political gains. If our PM is serious in what he says about Indian defence personnel then he should not hesitate to order a probe against Kirit Somaiya. The Army man is saying that he gave his hard-earned money as donations to Kirit Somaiya for saving the ship and the BJP leader had collected more than Rs 57 crore for the purpose. Where has that money gone? Somaiya fascinated people with the ‘Save Vikrant’ campaign in the name of saving the ship. His volunteers were spread across to collect money by wearing t-shirts and jerseys with Campaign statements and going to Mumbai airport and railway stations. Many people backed the campaign in the name of the INS Vikrant and donated whatever they could. The common public also pushed funds into those campaign boxes.
If we believe what Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has stated, then the truth must come out. Somaiya then media statements that he will submit the money to Raj Bhavan’s account by opening a separate independent account. Whereas Rajya Bhawan is clueless about any such submissions. Hope our central home ministry, defence ministry, Income Tax, and the CBI hold an inquiry. It is directly a case of sedition. In the recent past, many political leaders are on the IT and ED radar, their offences are still not anti-national, they have done scams and the probe is on but collecting funds in the name of Naval Ship and showing no accountability is national wrongdoing. I tried connecting Somaiya to know his side of the version but the calls went unanswered. In the meantime, Mumbai police have registered an FIR, Somaiya for proof and Raut invited investigation, let’s wait for the truth to be revealed.