Oppn parties slam Kamal Nath for remarks on UP workers

Oppn parties slam Kamal Nath for remarks on UP workers

Criticising Nath, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he appeared to be unaware of existing rules that prioritise jobs for the native population. PTI File Photo

The BJP and its ally JD(U) slammed Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for his comments linking youth of his state being deprived of jobs to migrants coming from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with even opposition parties like the SP and the Congress ally RJD expressing their disapproval.

As his remarks made soon after he took oath of office Monday snowballed into a political row, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told reporters he will look into the matter and offer a reply later.

Nath had said in Bhopal, "Lot of industries are set up in which people from other states, like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, come to work. I do not want to criticise them, but the youth of Madhya Pradesh are deprived (of jobs)."

Highlighting Nath's own "outsider" background, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya took a dig at him wondering whether whatever he has said should be implemented in politics as well.

The BJP leader said the Congress leader was born in Kanpur, studied in West Bangal and has now become the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, as he accused the new chief minister of promoting divisive politics and regional chauvinism.

"Such a statement does not behove a chief minister," he said.

Nath is a nine-time MP from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who like Vijaywargiya is also a leader from Madhya Pradesh, accused Nath of misleading people and said industries in a state always give primacy to locals in jobs.

"He has also been a union minister. He should be aware of these rules. What he is talking about is already in place... By making such a claim, he is misleading people," he told reporters.

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, who was a Congress ally in the UP assembly polls last year, said Nath's comments were wrong.

He said such statements targeting people from north India are often made by some leaders in Maharashtra and asserted it is the north Indians who decide who will rule the country.

The Delhi BJP unit staged a protest outside Nath's residence in the national capital and painted his nameplate black.

In Patna, Congress was isolated as its ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) criticised Nath with its spokesman Bhai Virendra saying such comments should be avoided as every citizen of the country is free to live and work anywhere.

Joining the issue, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally, hit out at the Congress.

Its spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said it is ironical that Rahul Gandhi keeps talking about the Constitution being under threat from the Narendra Modi government but a senior leader of his own party takes a stand that is nothing short of an assault on the country's federal structure.

Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai alleged the Congress has started spewing the venom of parochialism no sooner than it won power in Madhya Pradesh.

"It should apologise to the people of UP and Bihar, though this may be expecting too much from a party which is yet to express regret over the role of its Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakore in attacks on Biharis in the western state," he said.

However, state Congress working president Kaukab Qadri defended Nath, saying he was not spreading hatred against people of UP and Bihar, or threatening to drive them out, something which was witnessed in the BJP-ruled Gujarat and which has been a pet theme of Shiv Sena, the BJP's ally in Maharashtra.

He said Nath's thrust was on giving incentives to employment-generating industries in the state, which he will be governing.

CPI asked Nath not to "follow the ideals" of the Shiv Sena and as moving from one state to the other for employment is a common phenomenon.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament complex in the national capital, union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh lashed out at Nath and sought an apology from Gandhi.

"They (people from UP and Bihar) contribute to the progress of the states (they work in) through their hard work. Kamal Nath should answer whether India is in a federal structure or not. Congress president Rahul Gandhi should apologize to the people of Bihar and UP," he said.