Telangana BJP president G Kishan Reddy today tried to defend his party MLA's controversial remarks about Sania Mirza, saying he was not opposing her being made the state's brand ambassador but was only arguing for students who have been denied scholarships as their parents settled in the region after 1956.
Speaking to PTI here, he said that Telangana government has accorded ambassador status to tennis star Mirza, who had "married a Pakistani", while denying "fee reimbursement" to students, who settled down in Hyderabad 10 or 15 years ago.
"You are giving ambassador status for Sania Mirza, why not (help) students? You are denying scholarships and fee reimbursement to students who have settled down in Hyderabad 10 or 15 years ago. But, Sania Mirza, she has married a Pakistani and you are giving her (brand ambassador status). We are not opposing (brand) ambassador (status), we are comparing the issue," he said.
Reddy said that K Laxman, leader of BJP in the Telangana assembly, also made a statement on similar lines, but it was given a different interpretation by the media.
"It is an interpretation of the press... Laxman also said the same thing, but the issue has been interpreted," he added.
Laxman yesterday stoked a controversy over Sania Mirza being made the new state's brand ambassador, calling her Pakistan's "daughter-in- law", sparking outrage and drawing a fierce response from the tennis ace, who said she will remain an Indian until the "end of her life".
Describing Mirza as the "daughter of Hyderabad", Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had on Tuesday appointed her as the state's brand ambassador and handed over a cheque of Rs one crore.
Telangana government has just last week announced that only students whose families were natives of Telangana prior to 1956 will be eligible to avail fee reimbursement and scholarships for professional courses from this year.
BJP had yesterday distanced itself from Laxman's remarks.
"This is not BJP's position," senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar had said.
"Sania Mirza is the pride of India. Sania Mirza has an international standing on her own.... So, we have no objection. I am sure she is pride of India. She is a brand ambassador of India," he had said.