Union labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar has said there was no dearth of employment opportunities in the country, but recruiters visiting north India complain of lack of "quality people" to fill vacancies, drawing flak from opposition leaders who accused him of insulting people of the region.
The comments came amid criticism of the government over India's unemployment rate rising to a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, data of which was released in May.
"The issue of employment keep figuring in newspapers these days. I am handling the same ministry for labour and employment and examine the issue daily. I have understood the problem," Gangwar told reporters on Saturday in Bareilly, his Lok Sabha constituency.
"Recruiters who visit north India complain of facing dearth of quality people for the posts they need to fill," he added.
The minister's comments drew sharp reactions from opposition with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying the government was trying to escape blame for the job losses due to economic slowdown by such "insulting" comments.
"Mr Minister, it has been more than five years for your government. There is no job creation. Whatever jobs were there, they have been snatched due to the economic slowdown brought by the government. You want to escape by insulting North Indians," she said.
"Youths are looking towards the government hoping that it will do something good for them," the Congress general secretary said.
WATCH: Dearth of quality people in North India, says Union Min on unemployment
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said such comments are laughable.
"After the different laughable statements by different Union ministers on the serious issue of economic slowdown, instead of removing unemployment in the country now it is being said that there is no shortage of jobs, but of competence, especially amongst north Indians.
"This is extremely shameful and an apology should be tendered to the nation," she tweeted.