At the national level, BJP leader K Laxman’s unsavoury remarks on Sania Mirza’s appointment as Telangana’s brand ambassador became an issue of nationality. However, in Hyderabad the issue is an offshoot of the ongoing Telangana-Seemandhra regional conflict.
The two states have been sparring over several issues since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh on June 2. On Tuesday, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao announced Mirza, a local of Hyderabad, as brand ambassador of the newly formed state and presented her a cheque of Rs. 1 crore.
The appointment would have not have been controversial but for an earlier decision of KCR.
On Wednesday, BJP’s floor leader in the Telangana assembly, Dr K Laxman drew attention to KCR’s refusal to reimburse the fees of poor students born and brought up in Telangana but with origins in Seemandhra.
“KCR set a cut-off of 1956 to decide the domicile of students for the scheme but he makes an exception to a Pakistani daughter-in-law who was born in Mumbai in 1986 and bred in Hyderabad,” Laxman reportedly said.
The remarks sparked national outrage with leaders decrying the statement. The BJP and the NDA government distanced itself from the controversy by terming Mirza as the pride of the nation.
But Laxman’s observations seem to have found favour with Seemandhra leaders and with people angered over KCR’s decision on the students’ fees issue. Congress leaders in Telangana too disapproved of the tennis player being given “undue” recognition. “She never even said anything in support of Telangana,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP V Hanumantha Rao, who is from the city.
“How can she be the brand ambassador? I don’t understand. There are several sons of the soil who could be considered based on the nativity,” said Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief.
Telanganites like Ramesh Reddy, a marketing executive, who are still high on the regional sentiment, are opposed to the idea of “a person not associated with the Telangana movement or culture being given such a role.”