Sharad Pawar's comments about the 1962 war with China have drawn a response from the Maharashtra Congress, once more underscoring the rift between the state's ruling allies. Maharashtra Congress leader and the state's Energy Minister Nitin Raut today said Sharad Pawar should have "rectified the mistakes" when he was the country's defence minister.
"When China captured our territory in 1962, situation was different. Sharad Pawar should have rectified mistakes when he was the Defence Minister under Congress rule. Instead of commenting on Rahul Gandhi's remark, he should've advised the Prime Minister to speak on issue," Mr Raut was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Congress and Rahul Gandhi's repeated attacks on the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had led Mr Pawar to make a pointed reference to the 1962 war and China's capture of around 45,000 sq km of Indian territory.
Matters of national security shouldn't be politicized, Mr Pawar had said, referring to 1962, when Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr Gandhi's great grandfather, was the Prime Minister.
"That land is still with China. I don't know if they (China) have encroached on some area now again. But when I make an allegation, I should also see what had happened when I was there (in power). If such big land was encroached upon then, it cannot be ignored. It is a matter of national security and it should not be politicised is what I feel," Mr Pawar had said.
On Sunday, Mr Gandhi had responded with a tweet, questioning "When will there be talk of national security".
Mr Raut said instead of commenting on Rahul Gandhi's remarks about the government, Mr Pawar should have advised the Prime Minister to speak on the Ladakh issue.
PM Modi had spoken of Ladakh on Sunday on his monthly radio address "Mann ki Baat".
Without naming China, he said India has given a "befitting reply" to those who dared to eye her territory.
"If India knows how to maintain friendship, it can also confront someone and give an adequate response. Our brave soldiers made it clear that they will not allow anyone to taint the honour of Mother India," he added, referring to the clash with Chinese troops of June 15, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the line of duty.