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Former Pakistani minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain’s “praise” of Rahul Gandhi is a matter of “grave concern” and the Congress must explain the ‘deep love’ for its leader from a country that always attempted to destabilise India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said.

In an interview to PTI on Saturday, Singh also questioned the Congress’ relationship with Pakistan.

“There must be a reason behind this deep love (agadh prem) from a country that has been trying to destabilise India. It is a matter of grave concern and India wants to know what is the reason behind this love,” he said.

Chaudhry, infamous for boasting about Pakistan’s hand in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack, had on May 1 posted on ‘X’ excerpts from a speech by Gandhi with the caption “Rahul on fire” that drew sharp criticism from BJP leaders.

“If a former minister of a country that has been attempting to destabilise India praises (Rahul), then it is a matter of concern. The Congress owes an explanation about its relationship with Pakistan,” the defence minister said.

Singh said the neighbouring country was attempting to influence the Indian elections. Asked if it is succeeding, Singh said Pakistan does not have the ‘aukaat’ (capability) to influence.

The former Pakistan minister on Saturday again complimented Gandhi for his party’s promise of conducting a wealth redistribution survey, if it is voted to power.

Redistributing wealth the way Congress wants to will destroy the economy and lead to uncontrollable inflation the way it happened in Venezuela, Singh said.

In his comments, Chaudhry had also compared Gandhi with his great-grandfather and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saying “both were socialists”.

For receiving endorsement from Pakistan, Gandhi has come under attack from Prime Minister Narendra Modi also, who said on Thursday that the Congress’ “partnership” with Pakistan has been “exposed” and that the neighbouring country is impatient to make Gandhi the prime minister.

Asked why the BJP is finding fault with Gandhi for Chaudhry’s unsolicited comments, Singh said the Pakistani politician “praised Rahul Gandhi by saying he is on fire.

If such comments come from a foreign land, it is natural to have a reaction from a political party of the BJP’s stature.

Gandhi or the Congress have made no attempt to distance themselves from this unwanted praise, Singh said.

“The praise came from someone who during his ministership had acknowledged that the Pakistan government had a hand in terror attacks in India,” the defence minister said.

Some three-and-half years ago, Chaudhry, who was then a minister, had made a sensational admission that Pakistan was responsible for the deadly Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.

“Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara (We hit India in their home). Our success in Pulwama is a success of this nation under the leadership of Imran Khan. You and us are all part of that success,” Chaudhry had said in the National Assembly during a debate.

India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

The defence minister also talked about how Pakistan has been relentlessly using terrorism to destabilise India and specifically mentioned the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.