In India, political leaders often make baseless allegations to run down opponents. But even by their low standards, Telangana BJP leader K Laxman’s statement that tennis star Sania Mirza cannot be appointed as the new state’s ambassador because she is the “daughter-in-law of Pakistan” is objectionable. Mr Laxman was protesting against the K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) government’s decision to appoint Ms Mirza, who is married to former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, as the ambassador to promote the state nationally and internationally. The objection is nothing but a desperate attempt to fan jingoistic passions and make political capital out of it. The government is well within its rights to appoint anyone it deems fit to further the name and brand value of the state. A prime example of this is Gujarat, which has appointed actor Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism though he is not a resident of the state. Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan is the brand ambassador of West Bengal.
The view that Ms Mirza was appointed by the KCR government to appease the minority community in view of the coming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation shows is stretching things a bit. It also shows the disrespect the politician — hopefully not the state unit of the party he represents — has for a sportsperson of Ms Mirza’s stature. The player received the Arjuna Award in 2004 and the Padma Shri in 2006 and has made India proud on many occasions. Ms Mirza is also the first Indian woman to win two Grand Slams, she won four gold medals at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, six medals from three Asian Games, and two at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. Her career-best ranking of 27 in singles and five in doubles is the highest for an Indian woman in tennis.
Telangana is a new state and for its progress it not only needs an efficient government but also a responsible opposition. Even though it has just five MLAs in the 119-member assembly, the BJP must work towards the development of Telangana and not create such needless controversies.