New Delhi: Union Minister Ramdas Athawale has a word of praise for Congress President Rahul Gandhi, reported ANI on Monday. Crediting the Congress chief for his party’s victory in the recently concluded Assembly elections, Athawale said Rahul shouldn’t be lampooned with the moniker of ‘Pappu’.

“Unko Pappu bolte the lekin mera ye sujhaav unko hai ki Pappu nahi aapko Papa hona chahiye aur Papa hone ke liye jaldi shaadi karni chahiye,aapko 3 rajyon mein safalta mili hai. Rahul Gandhi jaldi shaadi karein aur Papa ban’ne ka kaam karein (They called him Pappu but my suggestion to him would be that instead of Pappu, he should be Papa. For that to happen, he should get married fast. He has led his party to victory in three states. Rahul Gandhi should quickly get married and become a Papa (dad) soon.” (Also read: Athawale Apologises For ‘Free Petrol’ Comment)

Earlier, the minister had said that it was the people’s desire to “bring about a change” which led to the BJP’s loss in the recently concluded assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. He claimed that though the Congress will better its tally in 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP-led NDA will return to power under the leadership of Narendra Modi.

The minister, known for making controversial statements, found himself in the limelight about a fortnight ago when he was slapped at a public event in Maharashtra’s Ambernath town. “I am a popular leader, this might have been done at the behest of someone angry over something. Security arrangement there wasn’t adequate. I’ll meet the CM (Devendra Fadnavis) over this incident. It should be investigated,” the Republican Party of India (RPI-A) leader told reporters.

Members of the RPI-A had called for a statewide bandh following the attack on Athawale. Scores of RPI-A workers had assembled outside Athawale’s residence with party flags, raising slogans. Furthermore, one of the leaders, Kakasaheb Khambalkar, claimed that the attack was pre-planned. “It was a pre-planned attack. The mastermind should be nabbed. We’ve called for a Maharashtra bandh,” he told reporters.