NEW DELHI: Following the uproar over his migrant remark, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath in his defence argued that locals should be given preferences over migrants from other states and this is a norm which is followed in every state of the country.

"This (preference to locals over the migrants) is everywhere, it is there in other states as well. What is new in what I have said? Locals should be given preference," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Nath — who was last week appointed as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh — stoked controversy when he told reporters that his government will incentivise industries that give 70 per cent jobs to locals in Madhya Pradesh. He also claimed that people from UP and Bihar got employment in the state at the cost of the local population.

His comments sparked widespread condemnation, especially from leaders of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said that Nath's mentality is the same as that of the Bharatiya Janata Party. "They (likes of Kamal Nath) all work for insulting north Indians while it is north Indians working in their states that have made them rich,” he said.

“India is one country and anyone can go anywhere for a job... All that is produced there (in Madhya Pradesh) has the market here in north India,” Yadav added.

Nath's remark was also condemned by leaders of BJP, Samajwadi Party and also the Communist Party of India (CPI). "Kamal Nath should not follow the ideals of Shiv Sena of Maharashtra. He is a leader of (the) Congress. He must understand the tradition of (the) Congress. (The) Congress can't go for parochial ideas," said CPI general secretary Atul Anjaan.
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