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Dictator wants democracy lessons

india Updated: May 28, 2010 00:38 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

More than 40 years after Libyan dictator Col Muammar al-Gaddafi grabbed power in a military coup, his son wants to take him on his maiden voyage to India, to take some lessons in democracy.

Saif al Islam Gaddafi, a political reformist, told HT in an exclusive interview on Wednesday India’s economic rise and democratic tradition meant it was time his oil-rich nation got down to “work on” India.

Gaddafi Sr is known for his flamboyance: dressing in African colours, travelling with female bodyguards and with a Bedouin tent. In 2009, on his first visit to the US, he pitched a tented ‘city’ that was taken down.

Always controversial, Gaddafi has been accused of financing international terror. In 2003, he accepted responsibility for the Pan Am Lockerbie crash.

Gaddafi ruffled India’s feathers last year by backing independence for Kashmir. Why he has never been to India remains a mystery, despite visits to Libya by Indira Gandhi in 1984 and I.K. Gujral in 1999.

As a result, Indians have been denied a view of the Arab leader’s idiosyncratic and rock star-like ways.