Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 25 January 2015

Westminster to have a Gandhi statue

A statue will be erected in Parliament Square in central London in tribute to Mahatma Gandhi
A statue will be erected in Parliament Square in central London in tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be erected outside the Palace of Westminster in Parliament Square.

Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the plans in New Delhi at Gandhi Smriti, a memorial on the site of his assassination.

The tribute to the civil rights leader, who studied in London, will be a mark of his continuing legacy inspiring non-violent movements around the world, they said.

Mr Osborne said: "As the father of the largest democracy in the world, it's time for Gandhi to take his place in front of the mother of parliaments. He is a figure of inspiration, not just in Britain and India, but around the world. New Indian prime minister Modi invoked his memory in his inaugural speech to parliament.

"I hope this new memorial will be a lasting and fitting tribute to his memory in Britain, and a permanent monument to our friendship with India."

The statue will stand alongside monuments to other statesmen including Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in the square.

The Government hopes it will be erected next year, funded by charitable donations and sponsors, with leading sculptor Philip Jackson, renowned for statues of the Queen Mother and Bomber Command, approached to take on the project.

Mr Hague said: " Gandhi's view of communal peace and resistance to division, his desire to drive India forward and his commitment to non-violence left a legacy that is as relevant today as it was during his life.

"He remains a towering inspiration and a source of strength. We will honour him with a statue alongside those of other great leaders in Parliament Square."

The statue will become a focal point for commemorations next summer on the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule, the Government said.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, who is leading a special advisory group to support the project, said: "My parents were born in British India with first-hand experience of partition. The effect it had on millions of people contributed to my decision to take up public service.

"Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's reverence and greatness, a man who fought equally for everyone, in the form of a statue in Parliament Square is a fitting tribute. No matter what your background, history or religion, this statue will allow people from around the world to look upon him and appreciate his endeavour and successes for humanity."

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