Criticising Bal Thackeray for his comments on Sania Mirza’s decision to marry Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said the Sena chief’s remarks are highly “symptomatic of his notorious tendency” to lend a communal colour to every issue.

Mr. Reddy, the Union Urban Development Minister, said it was unfortunate that Mr. Thackeray has chosen to criticise the decision of tennis star Sania to marry a Pakistani cricketer on political grounds.

“We in India have very serious problems with the Government of Pakistan. That does not, however, mean that there cannot be good relations between the people of the two countries,” he said in a statement here.

Mr. Reddy added that the choices in matters relating to marriage are absolutely personal. Nobody can dispute the freedom of Sania on the issue, he said.

“The comment of Mr. Bal Thackeray is highly symptomatic of his notorious tendency to lend a communal colour to every issue.

“The people of India, in the second decade of 21st century, are much too mature and sophisticated for such cheap political gimmicks,” he said.

Mr. Thackeray had lambasted the tennis star for deciding to marry Malik and said she is no longer an Indian.

The 84-year-old Shiv Sena supremo also said that had Sania been truly Indian at heart, she would not have chosen a Pakistani.

“Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn’t have beaten for a Pakistani,” Thackeray had said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ’Saamana’.