Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy on Thursday both claimed credit for the evacuation of 29 Indians from conflict-ridden Libya. The war of words ensued after Chandy said the state was bearing the travel expenses of the evacuees, 16 of whom are from Kerala. “Sushma Swaraj paid for the earlier evacuations. This time we are paying for their travel,” he had said earlier.

Swaraj took to Twitter to respond to his claims, saying he had started the debate about who had paid for the operation, while “we always did this because this is our pious duty towards our citizens”. “We evacuated thousands of Indians from Kerala from Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Who paid for them?” said Swaraj.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during an election campaign in Kerala that his government had evacuated the families from Libya. They reached Kochi on Thursday morning. However, Modi faced criticism for comparing the state with Somalia while speaking about the infant mortality rate among tribals in Kerala, which goes to polls on May 16. Chandy said on Thursday that the state government was considering legal action against Modi for his remarks, saying he had “humiliated” Keralites across the world and that people of the state wanted an unconditional apology from him, PTI reported.