Hyderabad: The Congress today criticised BJP MLA K Laxman over his criticism of tennis ace Sania Mirza being named the brand ambassador for Telangana, even as it distanced itself from party Member of Parliament V Hanumantha Rao over the latter's comment on the issue. (I Am Indian, Will Always Remain One: Sania Mirza Reacts)
"Laxman has made all these insinuations against Sania. Sports unites all Indians. Sania has done us proud in Asian and Olympic Games. She and her family have a deep history and connection with Telangana. This is divisive behaviour which all of us should condemn," Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda told reporters. (Read her full statement)
When it was pointed out that even Congress MP Rao has reportedly said that Sania is married to a Pakistani and so the people will not appreciate her being made the Telangana brand ambassador, Mr Gowda said, "If Hanumantha Rao has said that, we will dissociate ourselves from it."
When contacted, Mr Rao said he had objected to Sania being named the brand ambassador as she was not born in Telangana, but in Mumbai. He suggested that it was former India cricket captain Azharuddin instead who should have been made the brand ambassador as he was born in Hyderabad.
"The (Telangana) chief minister is not giving fee reimbursement to students not born in Telangana. How can he then appoint a brand ambassador who is not born in the state," said Mr Rao.
"Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a non-local," Mr axman, who is the leader of BJP in the state Assembly, reportedly remarked.
He also dubbed her as a "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan as she is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. The Telangana unit of Congress, too, had described her as being unfit for the honour.