Hyderabad: Telangana BJP leader K Laxman sparked a controversy when he made a bizarre statement and called tennis player, Sania Mirza a ‘daughter-in-law’ of Pakistan and questioned her credentials to be the brand ambassador of Telangana.
The tennis star reacted to Laxman’s statement and said, “I am an Indian and will remain an Indian till the end of my life. It hurts me that the precious time of the politicians and the media is being wasted on a petty issue. I strongly condemn the attempts to brand me an outsider.”
In her Tweets Sania Mirza wrote, "1.I am married to Mr. Shoaib Malik, who is from Pakistan. I am an Indian, who will remain an Indian until the end of my life." She futher added," 2. I was born in Mumbai as my mother needed to be at a specialist hospital since she was seriously unwell at the time of my birth. I came home to Hyderabad when I was 3 weeks old. My forefathers have lived in Hyderabad for more than a century. My grandfather, Mr. Mohammed Zaffer Mirza started his career as an Engineer."
Reacting to the incident, Congress described the BJP leader's statement against Sania Mirza as ‘bizarre’ and said that no sportsperson should be dragged into politics to gain political mileage. Even the TRS leader K Keshava Rao dubbed Laxman’s remark as ‘absurd’, he said “This is foolish talk, we don't care what anyone says, she is an international achiever” The TRS government had of late decided to appoint the tennis star as brand ambassador of the newly carved-out state.
Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a "non-local", the BJP leader told reporters here. He further sought to dub her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, pointing out that she was married to that country's cricketer Shoaib Malik.
The 27-year-old tennis player had never participated in agitation for a separate state of Telangana, said Laxman, who is leader of BJP in Telangana Legislative Assembly.
He accused the government of taking the step with an eye on the minority community votes in upcoming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. He also refused to apologise for his remarks and said that the appointment highlighted the double standard of the government.
Interestingly BJP leaders have made conflicting statements on the issue, Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has supported K Laxman's views, he said, “I agree with the BJP leaders that when people have divided loyalties, we cannot expect them to represent the country or any part of the country faithfully. So, the BJP stand is well taken.” On the other hand I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar opposed the statement made by Laxman and called Sania Mirza the ‘pride of the nation.’
Handing over a grant of Rs 1 crore here on Tuesday, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao appointed Sania as brand ambassador of Telangana and described her as a daughter of Hyderabad.
In Pic: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao presenting a cheque Rs. 1 crore to Sania Mirza at ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad on July 22 (main) / File image of Telangana BJP leader K Laxman (inset)