In July, Rahul Gandhi called him "well-meaning boy". Today, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, 43, returned the compliment, calling the 46-year-old Congress leader a "good boy". In poll season, many see a budding bromance, turning into something more meaningful, like a political realignment.
Mr Gandhi is in Uttar Pradesh on a 2,500-km tour that features khaat sabhas during which he will interact with farmers. He has so far aggressively targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government and also aimed digs at the state's Samajwadi Party government.
Asked by reporters today on a possible alliance with the Congress for the state election next year, Mr Yadav was noncommittal. "Rahulji bahut achhe insaan hain, bahut acche ladke hain. UP mein zyada rahenge to hamari bhi dosti unse hogi...do acche log mil jaye to kya kharab baat hai? (Rahul is a good human being and a good boy. If he spends more time in UP, we can also have a friendship...If two good human beings meet, what's wrong in that?)," he said.
During a visit in July, Mr Gandhi had said while addressing party workers: "Look at the young chief minister here. Akhilesh theek ladka hai(he is well-meaning boy) but his government isn't working." The Samajwadi Party, which came to power in 2012, faces the BJP, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress in the mega election in UP, the result of which will be seen to be an indication of who could win the 2019 national election.