Political parties corner Laxman, Sania decries remarks


 Political parties across the spectrum Thursday stepped up their attack on BJP Telangana leader K. Laxman who objected to Sania Mirza - whom he termed "daughter-in-law of Pakistan" - becoming the new state's brand ambassador even as the tennis star underlined her connection with Hyderabad and asserted she will "remain an Indian until the end".

The Congress was in the forefront condemning Laxman's "bizarre" statement while even Laxman's party sought to distance itself from his remarks.

Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury said that Mirza is a "youth icon who has brought glory to the country."

"On one hand, they (BJP) say 'Beti bachao, beti badhao' in parliament. On the other hand, they cannot implement what they are saying. When a man becomes ambassador, it is fine. When a woman becomes an ambassador, people raise such issues. I am very happy she has become Telangana ambassador," Chowdhury told reporters outside parliament.

Describing Laxman's remark as "bizarre", Congress leader Manish Tewari said it seemed part of a wider agenda.

"If you look at this in a wider perspective, ever since this government has come to power, there seems to be a calibrated attempt to try and polarise and keep the communal temperatures in this country soaring."

Mirza herself hit back at Laxman saying her forefathers have lived in Hyderabad for centuries.

"I am an Indian, who will remain an Indian until the end of my life. My grandfather, Mohammed Zaffer Mirza, started his career as an engineer in the Nizam's Railways in Hyderabad in 1948 and died in his ancestral home in Hyderabad.

"My great-grandfather, Mohammed Ahmed Mirza, was also born and raised in Hyderabad. He was chief engineer, water works, Hyderabad, and was responsible for constructing the famous Gandipet dam. My great-great-grandfather, Aziz Mirza, was the home secretary under the Nizam and worked tirelessly for relief works during the historic Musi river floods of 1908," she said.

"My family belongs to Hyderabad for more than a century and I strongly condemn any attempts by any person, whosoever (it may be), to brand me an outsider," she said.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati expressed happiness that the Telangana government has named Mirza as the state's brand ambassador.

"It is not right to bring politics into everything. This will create communal disharmony," she added.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MP K. Kavitha described the issue as "silly".

"Before making any such statements, I only wish the BJP leaders would have just gone through Sania Mirza's records. She has won many awards," she said.

"I don't see what the objection is about. I don't think Amitabh Bachchan is from Gujarat, but he is the brand ambassador of the state.. so what is the big deal about Sania Mirza representing Telangana," she said.

Seeking to clarify the Bharatiya Janata Party's stand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Javadekar said the tennis champion was "India's pride".

"Sania Mirza is a pride of India and has an international standing of her own. So, we have no objection. She is the brand ambassador of India," he said.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was more critical of Laxman.

"If someone makes such statements, it reflects his culture," he said.

Laxman had Wednesday criticised the Telangana government for appointing Mirza the state's brand ambassador saying she is a non-local and "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, referring to her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.

He also alleged that the TRS government did this to appease minorities in view of the coming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. - IANS