Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan on Thursday expressed shock at former party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement that he wanted to see Narendra Modi become the prime minister once again after the Lok Sabha elections. Khan claimed that Singh had been forced to make such a statement, News18 reported.

“I am deeply saddened by these remarks,” Khan said. “This is not his own remark, he has been forced to make it.”

However, Rajya Sabha MP, and a former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh claimed Mulayam Singh wanted to mislead people, ANI reported. “It is just to create confusion to ensure that [Indian Administrative Service officers] Chandrakala and Rama Raman who looted Noida under the guidance of both Mulayam and [Bahujan Samaj Party chief] Mayawati are saved, and Modi gets neutralised,” he said.

Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday during the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha praised the prime minister. “I want to congratulate the prime minister that he tried to move ahead taking everyone along,” he said. “I hope all members to win and return, and you [Modi] become prime minister again.”

The prime minister acknowledged the veteran leader’s wishes with folded hands and mentioned Mulayam Singh Yadav’s “blessings” in his speech. “There is much to do,” he said. “And Mulayam Singhji has given his blessings. I am very grateful to him.”

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s comments come at a time when his son Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has supported Opposition leaders in forming an alliance to defeat Modi and the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.