The Centre on Wednesday refused to be drawn into the 'son-of-the-soil' debate, with Home Minister Shivraj Patil asserting national pride was above everything.
When Shiv Sena MP Manohar Joshi, during a supplementary on the "anti-migrant drive" in Maharashtra, sought to know from Patil if he was proud be a Maharashtrian, the Home Minister said: "I am proud to be an Indian and I think Maharashtra is in India."
Patil hails from Maharashtra that has recently seen Shiv Sena's breakaway faction Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) speaking against migrant north-Indians and has also been be accused of instigating violence against them.
"Maharashtra is part of India and I am not going to separate Maharashtra from India," Patil said asserting national pride was above all feelings.
Joshi's remarks on regional pride and that jobs should go to local people drew sharp criticism from the Left parties and the Third Front constituents SP, TDP and JD(U).
His statement that there was "no anti-migrant drive" in Maharashtra was strongly objected to by Jaya Bachchan (SP).
After Patil's reply, Bachchan, wife of superstar Amitabh Bachchan who has the most visible target of the 'son-of-the-soil' and anti-migrant campaign in Maharashtra, wanted to raise a question but Chairman Hamid Ansari ruled that only three supplementaries would be allowed during the Question Hour.
Not satisfied, Bachchan and other SP members staged a walkout of the House.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) criticised media for "over-playing" and "glorifying" the protests by MNS and subsequent arrest of its chief Raj Thackrey and said he should have been arrested on the very day he made anti-migrant statements.