Condemnable though the statement by Laxman, BJP’s leader in Telangana assembly, is, more censure-worthy is the whole hungama around it
Shantanu Datta | July 24, 2014
Everyone, as is usual in this age of 24x7 TV news and social media overdrive, has said what had to be said about Telangana BJP leader K Laxman’s gibe at “Pakistan’s daughter-in-law” Sania Mirza being appointed the brand ambassador for Telangana.
Mirza herself has issued a statement over 13 tweets, stressing her Indian-ness and Hyderabadi roots. The opposition, as usual, has gone berserk over a statement that, at best, needed to be dismissed with a wave of hand – like you drive away a pesky fly hovering around your nose for long.
What is interesting is the way Mirza, India’s best and most successful women’s tennis player ever, began her statement this afternoon. "It hurts me that so much precious time of prominent politicians and the media is being wasted on a petty issue of my being appointed the Brand Ambassador of my State of Telangana," she said over successive tweets. Mirza, of course, is ostensibly too busy with her sports to know that all that many of these “prominent politicians” have on their hands these days is time – “precious” or otherwise.
Condemnable though the statement by Laxman, BJP’s leader in Telangana assembly, is, more censure-worthy is the whole hungama around it. Hungama by all the parties concerned.
* Politicians – both in and outside parliament – should focus on issues that need focus. Around the same time that the opposition leaders were hyperventilating on Twitter, waxing eloquent about Mirza’s Indian-ness and telling us just why the likes of Laxman should shut up, bodies of children were being readied for last rites. Around 9 am Thursday (July 24), a passenger train rammed into a school bus at an unmanned railway crossing in Telangana's Medak district, killing at least 20 children and injuring 15. According to a web report by HT, the death toll could rise.
So, dear leaders, take a deep breath and reanalyse: it was an unmanned crossing. And as Hyderabad-based journalist Dinesh Akula posted, “The union rail budget 2014 had focussed on unmanned level crossings, and rail minister S Gowda had said 5,400 unmanned crossings would be removed. Today 12 primary school children were killed when a school bus collided with a moving train at unmanned level crossing at Masaipet village in Medak district of Telangana, 62 kilometres from the state capital Hyderabad.”
* Rather than duelling on Sania Mirza’s on-court abilities and telling the likes of Laxman and Subramaniam Swamy (who, not unusually, given his talent to back most things unbackable, backed Laxman’s idea) to back off, the twitteratti and the media should focus on places where the real action is. Glasgow, at present, where the Indians are taking part in the ongoing Commonwealth Games. But, then, we are perhaps way too busy lecturing others than hit the dirt – or the court.
* Being a new state still fighting for its identity, Telangana should focus on things other than getting brand ambassadors on board. There is surely work to be done on agriculture, job creation and economic disparity (between Hyderabad and other districts of the new state) fronts, especially with the less-than-moderate rainfall this season and the runaway inflation. Brand ambassadors can do little with that. They can, arguably, get investment and industry to come in, but all that jazz would be sung later.
* Mirza, meanwhile, would do well to hit the practice courts more than becoming ambassadors. She can focus on these things after her career is over. The problem most Indian sportspersons face is lack of focus and attention, leading many careers to come a cropper after a bright start. Mirza is too senior a pro not to know all that, and more.
* Lastly, the likes of K Laxman should remember that only rowdy ruffians and bigots would cheer with wolf-whistles to such statements. What they are bringing to the political table with such remarks and action (the Shiv Sena MPs who went ballistic at Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi recently are also a case in point) is nuisance value. And everyone knows what happens to such characters in the long run – they lose value even for their core constituents.