Moderating his comments, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday suggested that he has "appreciation" for PV Narasimha Rao despite his criticism of the late Prime Minister over the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
"Just because I have criticised someone on the issue does not mean that I do not appreciate him," Gandhi told reporters in Kanpur taking a break from his whirlwind three-day roadshow in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Gandhi's remarks came days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed Rao as a "sanyasi in politics". Singh had also said Rao had been his friend-philosopher-guide.
While the young leader did not take the name of Rao, the reference was apparent. His remarks during the first roadshow that if anyone from the Gandhi-Nehru family was active in politics then, the Babri Masjid would not have fallen were seen as a broadside against Rao who was the Prime Minister at that time.
Gandhi's statement had triggered a controversy with the BJP as well as Samajwadi Party and the Left parties attacking him with some dubbing him "anti-Hindu", while others said he was "anti-Muslim".