Mahatma Gandhi's statue unveiled in London's Parliament Square

Mahatma Gandhi's bronze statue was unveiled jointly by British PM David Cameron and Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley in London's Parliament Square on Saturday. A galaxy of political leaders were present at the unveiling along with Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi at the ceremony.

world Updated: Mar 14, 2015 23:45 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Mahatma Gandhi's statue,London,UK

Winston Churchill would never be in the same room as Mahatma Gandhi in their lifetime, but both came together to share the same space as Union finance minister Arun Jaitley unveiled a statue overlooking the Houses of Parliament on Saturday.

There were several poignant historic twists as a large crowd gathered in bright sun to honour the man who shook the most powerful empire of his time and led India to freedom. It was the second Gandhi statue installed in London, after the one in Tavistock Square in 1968.

The Gandhi statue is not only near his one-time nemesis, Churchill, it is also close to the statue of Jan Smuts of South Africa, where Gandhi cut his teeth in oppositional politics before applying them in India. Smuts and Gandhi were adversaries, but Smuts later turned an admirer of Gandhi.

The 9-feet Gandhi statue is also next to his ideological follower, Nelson Mandela, but almost all the other 12 statues in and around Parliament Square are of those who defended the British empire.

Seeking blessings from Gandhi, PM David Cameron said, “I hope that as Gandhi takes up residence in this square at the heart of our politics and democracy that we can all be blessed with the wisdom of Gandhi today, tomorrow and for generations to come”.

Jaitley said, “Nobody embodies the deep and enduring connections between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy as well as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi”.

The event included a widely appreciated personal reflection by Gandhi’s grandson, Gopal Gandhi, a reading from one of Gandhi’s books on world peace by Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, and a rendition of Gandhi’s favourite bhajan, ‘Raghupati raghav raja ram’.

The statue was produced by noted British sculptor Philip Jackson, who said he watched Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film, ‘Gandhi’ only once, “because I didn’t want him to look like Ben Kingsley.”

First Published: Mar 14, 2015 16:31 IST