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Hillary apologises for Gandhi remark

It was a dumb thing to say and I am sincerely sorry. I have only the highest regard for Mahatma Gandhi and have been a long-time admirer of his life and work, Hillary said.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2004 20:03 IST

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, known in the Indian community as an India lover and a top favourite with many, made what she described later as a "lame attempt at a joke" at an event in St. Louis that elicited much heartache from the community.

It was a fundraiser for Nancy Farmer, Missouri's state treasurer, who is a Senate candidate. Senator Clinton introduced a quote from Mahatma Gandhi by saying "who ran a gas station down in St. Louis for a couple of years".

The quote "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win" was to emphasise Farmer's underdog status against a Republican Senator, Kit Bond.

Since then she has made a public apology, which has been aired on television several times. On what appeared on CNN, she said: "It was a lame attempt at a joke. It was a dumb thing to say and I am sincerely sorry. I have only the highest regard for Mahatma Gandhi and have been a long-time admirer of his life and work. I consider him one of the great leaders of the 20th century."

Senator Clinton visited India in 1996. She was the first US first lady to do so in over 30 years since Jacqueline Kennedy visited India. Since then she has almost never missed an opportunity to mention some aspect or the other of the trip that left her deeply moved.

On that trip, she travelled from New Delhi to Ahmedabad to visit Mahatma Gandhi's ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati river, founded in 1917, two year's after his return to India from South Africa.

Respectful of Indian custom, Clinton took off her shoes before going inside the rooms in which Gandhi lived and worked.

First Published: Jan 08, 2004 20:03 IST