Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday tore into Rahul Gandhi for his alleged remarks that "radicalised Hindu groups" may be a bigger danger than Islamist terrorists.
Speaking to newspersons in Mumbai on Saturday, Modi said Rahul's comments only helped Pakistan.
"Through the WikiLeaks expose, it has been revealed who has given all the information to the US. Now, it is clear why the US is backing Pakistan," Modi said.
In a similar reaction, Thackeray questioned Rahul's credentials for commenting on Hindu terrorism and advised him "not to act too smart".
"Who is Rahul Gandhi," he demanded, adding that he need not point out Rahul's "Italian connections".
Thackeray also warned the Congress leader against attacking Hindus, saying that failure to do so would mean that "they would retaliate and tackle him by the horns".
Rahul last year told US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer that "the growth of radicalised Hindu groups" may be a "bigger threat" to India than support to some Islamic terror groups from the Muslim community, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Rahul told Roemer that although "there was evidence of some support (for Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba) among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community", the Guardian reported on Friday.
A group of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists burnt Rahul's effigy near the Congress party district office in Thane Saturday afternoon, shouting slogans and carrying placards.
The protest passed off without any untoward incident, a police officer said.