At a time when the SP is backing Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential race, Congress leader Rashid Alvi has sparked off a controversy by dubbing Mulayam Singh Yadav as the "biggest agent" of BJP, attracting instant disapproval from the AICC on Thursday.
"I don't know if you would like it or not but I have been saying it for the last 10 years that if there is anybody who is the biggest agent of BJP, it is Mulayam Singh Yadav. If anybody dances to the tunes of BJP, it is Mulayam Singh Yadav," Alvi, the Congress spokesperson, said addressing a public meeting in Moradabad Wednesday night.
The remarks met with instant disapproval from the AICC with party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi making it clear "We do not approve of this. The Congress has always been in favour of uniting the secular forces".
The SP on its part said the remarks were uncalled for.
"I hope Rashid Alvi has taken permission of his leader Sonia Gandhi and other leaders before making such statements....If he is making the statement without any permission, the party should take action against him. Whatever may be the context, making such statements is uncalled for," SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui also asked Alvi to apologise for calling Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav an agent of the BJP. Siddiqui however did not tie SP's voting for Congress' presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee with Rashid Alvi's statement.
Saying that Mulayam Singh was one of the best secular leader in the country, Siddiqui said that even Rahul Gandhi had made statement against the Samajwadi Party ahead of the UP election but that does not change their position on giving issue based support to the Congress to keep communal BJP out.
Alvi's remark have come at a time when SP has become a valuable supporting party for Congress with Yadav supporting Mukherjee for the post of President after disassociating himself with the line taken by UPA's key constituent Trinamool Congress.
Alvi later clarified that his remarks should be seen in the light of campaigning for the Municipal Corporation elections in Uttar Pradesh where all parties are speaking against each other including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
"I have the same opinion as Janardan Dwivedi has," Alvi told PTI apparently seeking to make amends.
"It is election time in the state in which parties are making allegations against each other. SP is also making allegations against us. Elections are going on. The remarks were made at a public meeting. There is not much between the lines to be read," he said.
With Presidential elections set for July 19, Congress has been going the extra mile to keep all its allies and supporting parties in good humour.
(With agency inputs)