The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UPA squirms at ‘outsider’ tag

Ranchi, March 18: Sonia Gandhi’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha, Mabel Rebello, had a rough time defending her ‘outsider’ tag for the second consecutive day today.

So vicious was the bodyline bowling hurled at her that she played and missed and the UPA’s middle order retired hurt.

Rebello’s seat in the Rajya Sabha, however, became certain today after her papers were found to be in order. With no other candidate in sight, she and the NDA nominee S.S. Ahluwalia are expected to win their seats without any contest. A formal announcement will have to wait till the last day for withdrawals though.

Soon after the scrutiny today, Rebello addressed newsmen and said her prime objective would be to stop migration of the poor from the state. She would strive hard to ensure gainful employment of people, she declared before adding, “I am committed to improve the lifestyle of people below the poverty line”.

She, however, was forced to fend off a barrage of bouncers with snide questions on her “sudden” interest in Jharkhand and why she could not continue serving people of Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh.

The Constitution allowed her to get elected to Parliament from anywhere in the country, she pointed out in vain even as UPA leaders flanking her squirmed uneasily.

Out of six Rajya Sabha members from the state, including Rebello and NDA’s Ahluwalia, not a single one happens to be a tribal. And only one of them, namely Ajay Maroo, is born and brought up in the region. Ahluwalia, who has business interests in Bihar and an ancestral house in Patna, is from Asansol (Bengal) while another Rajya Sabha MP, Dev Das Apte is a Maharashtrian though he has spent nearly four decades in the region as an RSS worker.

Both Digvijay Singh of JD (U) and Yashwant Sinha, both members of the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand, are seen as politicians from Bihar who switched over to Jharkhand for greener pastures. With Sonia Gandhi now nominating Rebello for the Rajya Sabha from the state, the controversy has acquired a fresh edge.

JMM leader Sudhir Mahto and UPA convener in the state Stephen Marandi were and asked why they did not favour outsiders to hold jobs in the state but welcomed outsiders to represent the state.

Another vicious turner followed when they were asked why no suitable candidate was found in the state. Both leaders decided to retire hurt.

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