The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday criticised newly sworn-in Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for claiming that people of other states were taking away jobs in his state.

Hours after taking oath on Monday, Nath had said only those industries that promote employment for locals will get incentives. “Our schemes of providing incentives of investment will only be imposed after 70% people from Madhya Pradesh get employment,” Nath had said, according to The Times of India. “People from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh come here and local people don’t get jobs. I have signed the file for this.”

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, said on Tuesday he will discuss the matter with Nath. The party’s state unit, however, defended Nath’s comments saying that the chief minister was talking about providing employment to people in Madhya Pradesh and had stressed that the Bihar government should focus on it too, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, BJP’s Purvnachal Morcha workers staged a protest outside Nath’s Tughlaq Road house in New Delhi and defaced his nameplate, PTI reported. The BJP workers staged a protest and demanded an apology from Nath. “The Constitution allows people of the country to go and settle in any part of the country and take up any livelihood means of their choice,” said Delhi BJP’s Poorvanchal Morcha President Manish Singh.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal, an ally of the Congress in Bihar, also described Nath’s comments as avoidable. Bhai Virendra, Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA and spokesperson, said every citizen of the country is free to live and work anywhere.

Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the chief minister is not aware of existing rules that prioritise employment for the local people. “What he is talking about is already in place... by making such a claim, he is misleading people,” Tomar said, according to PTI.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed Nath himself was an “outsider” and should not make such divisive statements. “Kamal Nath was born in Kanpur. He received his education in [West] Bengal. His business is spread across the country. He is now chief minister of Madhya Pradesh,” Vijayvargiya said. “Such a statement does not behove him.”

Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai demanded an apology from the Congress for the comments. “It should apologise to the people of Uttar Pradesh 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,” Rai said.

The Aam Aadmi Party accused the Madhya Pradesh chief minister of creating animosity against the people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, PTI reported. “The Congress and the BJP are two sides of the same coin when it comes to their attitude towards settlers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in other states,” said the party’s spokesperson Dilip Pandey.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party has offered support to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, also criticised Nath for his comments. “It is wrong, often you get to hear the same from Maharashtra,” ANI quoted Yadav as saying. “Same from Delhi and now from Madhya Pradesh as well. What if North Indians decide who will form the government at the Centre?”

Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said Nath’s statement is against the principles of federalism. “People from one state can move to another state and work there,” he told The Indian Express. “Kamal Nath has hurt the people of Bihar and other states working in Madhya Pradesh. We want to know if Congress President Rahul Gandhi agrees with what Nath says.”