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Statue or bust

india Updated: Mar 06, 2008 21:45 IST
Hindustan Times
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There’s some ruckus in faraway Leicester over a proposed statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It turns out that there’s now a signature campaign against the statue of someone who’s not, um, a local lad. The non-violent online petition from the local naysayers has even reached 10 Downing Street, the epicentre of today’s aggressively multi-cultural Britain. As a foil to Gandhiji’s candidature in bronze, locals have pitched the name of Leicester lad and former England footballer Gary Linekar (who, unlike, old chap Mohandas, still walks among us) as a statue-subject.

British internationalists of Indian origin like British MP from Leicester East Keith Vaz maintain that the Mahatma is a role model for the whole world and not only desis. The Leicester naysayers think otherwise — and have even pointed out that Gandhi “was a more controversial figure than some believe”. While Linekar himself is not completely non-controversial (he was accused of being a ‘goal-hanger” scoring on the efforts of others), he did appear Bend it like Beckham championing the cause of Jesminder ‘Jess’ Kaur Bhamra (played by Parminder Kaur Nagra, a local Leicester lass!), even if it was in the latter’s dreams. So, Linekar wouldn’t mind a statue of a brown gent in his town now, would he?

But instead of having a contest between two jug-eared gentlemen as to who will have a statue, why doesn’t the city authorities expand the possibilities? After all, Richard Attenborough, the director of Gandhi, is from Leicester. That way, both parties in the statue divide can be happy.