Reacting to Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav's comment that he hoped for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's return to the office, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, PM's bitter rival, said he disagreed with Mr Yadav's comment but he respected his opinion.
"I disagree with him. But Mulayam Singh Yadav has a role in politics and I respect his opinion," Mr Gandhi was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Mr Yadav, in a surprising comment, said in Lok Sabha that he hoped the PM became prime minister again. The comment was in conflict with the stance of his party, which entered into an alliance with Mayawati's BSP to stop the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
"I want to congratulate the PM that he tried to move ahead taking everyone along. I hope all members to win and return, and you (PM Modi) become prime minister again," Mulayam Singh, 79, said in the Lok Sabha. His supporters later swore it was all in humour, but the comment raised many eyebrows.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his last speech of the Lok Sabha, he thanked Mr Yadav for his "blessings". "There is much to do. And Mulayam Singhji has given his blessings. I am very grateful to him," he said.
Mr Yadav's son and the current Samajwadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav, is a staunch rival of PM Modi. He has been making sharp attacks on him and his party. Last year, he entered into an alliance with Mayawati, another PM Modi critic.
In 2017, Akhilesh Yadav effected a coup of sorts, taking over the party and showing the door to Mulayam Singh Yadav's brother Shivpal Yadav.
Shivpal Yadav, later, formed his party. Mulayam Singh Yadav supported his son after the change of leadership in Samajwadi Party, but also attended his brother's rally last year.
With inputs from agencies
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