- Rahul Gandhi was seated next to Nitin Gadkari at the Republic Day parade
- Mr Gadkari has recently made comments seen as critical of the government
- The BJP minister recently praised Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi
The spectacular parade at Delhi's Rajpath during the 70th Republic Day was accompanied by an interesting sidelight - Congress chief Rahul Gandhi seated in the front row with Union minister Nitin Gadkari, chatting amicably. Three seats to the right of Mr Gandhi was BJP chief Amit Shah.
Last year, the seating arrangement for Mr Gandhi had triggered a huge row. The 47-year-old was given a seat in the fourth row, next to party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. A furious Congress had questioned why Mr Gandhi was packed off at the back, pointing out that his mother Sonia Gandhi was always seated in the front row. Mr Gandhi had brushed off the matter, saying it did not matter where he sat, what was important was attending the event.
Mr Gadkari had drawn attention lately with comments that were seen as critical to the government.
At a function last month, he also admitted to have a fondness for the speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation's first Prime Minister and the great grandfather of Rahul Gandhi. Mr Gadkari had even quoted from one of his speeches, saying half the country's problems would not exist if individuals did not create them.
Earlier this month, he had created a flutter, calling Indira Gandhi, the grandmother of Rahul Gandhi, a model of women's empowerment. "Indira Gandhi proved her mettle in her party among other dedicated male leaders. Was it due to reservation?" Mr Gadkari had asked.
His praises for the former leaders of the Congress had pushed party leader Ashish Deshmukh to question whether the minister would in future agree with Rahul Gandhi on Rafale deal.
In August last year, the Congress had praised Mr Gadkari, when on the question of job reservation for Marathas, he had questioned, "Where are the jobs".
"We applaud Nitin Gadkari for being the first BJP Minister to speak the truth and courageously raise the question that we and the people of India have been asking," the Congress had tweeted.
Rahul Gandhi had tweeted about it too. "Excellent question Gadkari Ji. Every Indian is asking the same question," his post read.
Sonia Gandhi, who has been skipping most public functions lately, did not attend today's event.
Those who attended the event included Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, Congress's Ghulam Nabi Azad and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.