Kolkata: A day after the Samajwadi Party's direct attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi kicked up a storm, its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday extended his good wishes to the young politician.
"He is a young man. I extend my good wishes to him to excel in politics," Mr Yadav, whose party provides outside support to the Congress-led UPA government, told the media in Kolkata.
He was speaking at the end of the Samajwadi Party's two-day national executive meeting.
Mr Gandhi came under fire on Tuesday from SP General Secretary Mohan Singh, who doubted his ability to lead the nation saying the Congress leader remained mum in the Lok Sabha on critical national issues in the last two years.
"Whoever understands Indian politics will say that Rahul Gandhi does not seem to have the qualities to lead the country in view of the challenges it is facing," Mohan Singh had said.
Mr Yadav, however, deftly parried a query on whether Rahul Gandhi should be made the Prime Minister.
"It is not our party which is going to make him the Prime Minister. It is for the Congress to decide. Ask the Congress President (Sonia Gandhi)."
When a mediaperson referred to Mohan Singh's derisive comments about Mr Gandhi, Mr Yadav said: "What Mohan Singh has said - let it go. Ask what I am saying."
Mohan Singh's comments were condemned by the Congress. Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said: "Anyone criticising Rahul Gandhi does not know him or the Congress. He is a national leader and it is against political courtesy to pass such remarks."
The Bharatiya Janata Party also joined the SP on Tuesday in targeting Mr Gandhi for remaining "silent" on corruption issues and claimed that the "Brand Rahul" did not exist.
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said he did not hear Mr Gandhi speak on issues of price rise and corruption, including the raging controversy over coal blocks allocation.