"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 the BJP, it is Mulayam Singh Yadav. If anybody dances to the tunes of the BJP, it is Mulayam Singh Yadav," Alvi, the Congress spokesperson, said while addressing a public meeting in Moradabad on 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 the 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.
Alvi's remark have come at a time when the SP has become a valuable supporting party for the Congress, with Yadav supporting Mukherjee for the post of President after disassociating himself with the line taken by the United Progressive Aliance'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. The 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, the Congress has been going the extra mile to keep all its allies and supporting parties in good humour.