When tennis star Sania Mirza was made the brand ambassador of Telangana, a local BJP leader’s remark on her nationality spiralled into a countrywide furore, but it did not have much currency in her city.
For many Hyderabadis, Sania’s nationality was not the issue, what was debated was her connect with the region, its sentiments and whether she could do justice to the role.
More than two months into the role for which the Telangana government gave her Rs 1-crore grant, Sania has done little of note to prove such sceptics wrong.
Critics would be wrong to paint it all black because she has been busy winning Asian Games medals (mixed doubles gold and bronze in women’s doubles) for the country. They could, however, have a point if they claim she has found time to highlight other causes.
Sania, who is proactive on Twitter (with 2.04 million followers), has till now not tweeted a single message promoting the state and its ambitious activities at a global level.
During this time, she has tweeted on PETA, a chocolate brand and herself on a magazine cover among others. On Wednesday, she retweeted a tweet related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign.
Of course, it is her account and her call. If Telangana’s authorities are miffed, they aren’t saying.
"I have nothing to comment on this," a senior official said after a pause. The official was present alongside chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao when Sania was presented with the letter of appointment on July 22.
There has not been a dearth of events in Telangana to promote. Bathukamma, a Telangana festival of flowers was held recently and the Metropolis World Congress – through which the CM wants to showcase Telangana culture and his governance — being top of the list.
It was Rao’s decision to make her the state ambassador and in the face of opposition from various quarters, he had described her as pride of Telangana.
An additional Rs 1 crore was announced for her when she won the US Open mixed doubles title in September.
It is not that Sania does not acknowledge the title. “I am proud to be the brand ambassador of the state. It has someway been lucky for me as I won quite a lot after,” she told reporters on Monday.
Reached for comment, Anam Mirza, Sania’s sister and spokesperson, said she would get the tennis star to respond. The response is awaited.
Three instances in three months where Telangana was mentioned in her tweets:
Let's get Telangana on the world map together..thank u for the trust honourable CM sir..I am humbled ??— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) July 22, 2014
In reaction to the tragic train-school bus collision where about 25 school kids died:
Medak, Telangana. May God grant them the strenght to bear this shocking loss— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) July 24, 2014
When CM KCR announced cash awards for Badminton players from the state:
Congratulations to d honourable CM KCR Garu,@KTRTRS and the state of Telangana on the super initiative towards sports..— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) August 7, 2014