The Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday said its President Sharad Pawar’s remark that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seemed to “lack consistency” should be considered “fatherly advice”, ANI reported.

NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase pointed out that Pawar had spoken up for Gandhi, when former United States President Barack Obama made unfavourable comments about him in his memoir.

“Whatever Sharad Pawar saheb said in the interview with a news organisation should be considered as fatherly advice of a veteran leader,” Tapase said. “MVA [Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi] is a government of all three parties. It was Sharad Pawar who criticised Barack Obama for commenting on Rahul Gandhi in his book. Pawar saheb had clearly said Obama must not comment on leaders of other countries.”

Maharashtra Congress leader Yashomati Thakur, meanwhile crticised the NCP for Pawar’s comment. “I must appeal colleagues in MVA if you want stable govt in Maharashtra then stop commenting leadership of Congress,” she tweeted. “Everybody should follow basic rules of coalition.”

The ruling coalition in Maharashtra consists of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress.

On Thursday, Pawar was asked in an interview with Lokmat Media chairperson Vijay Darda if the country would accept Gandhi as a leader. “There are some questions in this regard,” he had said. “There seems to be less consistency.”

On questions about the Congress leader’s future and if he was a hurdle to the party, Pawar said the leadership of the party would depend on the kind of acceptance the person in question has within the organisation. He maintained that the rank and file of the Congress still have faith in the Nehru-Gandhi family. “Though I had differences with [Congress chief] Sonia Gandhi and the family, even today Congressmen have a sense of affection for the Gandhi-Nehru family,” Pawar added.

When asked about Obama’s comments on Gandhi, Pawar said that it was not important to accept everyone’s views. “I can say anything about the leadership in our country,” he had said. “But I will not talk about the leadership in another country. One should maintain that limit... I think Obama crossed that limit.”

In his recently-released memoir, A Promised Land, Obama said that he thought Gandhi had “a nervous, unformed quality about him” as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was “eager to impress the teacher”. But deep down, Gandhi “lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject”, Obama wrote.