Mahatma Gandhi statue to be unveiled in London's Parliament Square
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be unveiled on Saturday in London's Parliament Square, opposite Big Ben and the House of Commons..world Updated: Mar 14, 2015 11:59 IST
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be unveiled on Saturday at the heart of the British establishment in London's Parliament Square, opposite Big Ben and the House of Commons.
Gandhi will join figures including Britain's World War II leader Winston Churchill, who described him as a "half-naked fakir".
The giant bronze statue will be unveiled by Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Gandhi's grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Amitabh Bachchan is expected to read out some of Mahatma Gandhi's iconic words at the event.
Despite such pomp, Gandhi was historically resented by many in Westminster as the leader of the non-violent campaign for Indian independence from Britain, which was granted in 1947.
"This statue is a magnificent tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of world politics and by putting Mahatma Gandhi in this famous square, we are giving him an eternal home in our country," Cameron said in a statement released before the event.
"This statue celebrates the incredibly special friendship between the world's oldest democracy and its largest, as well as the universal power of Gandhi's message."
The unveiling marks the latest step in Britain's efforts to recast both its past and present in India, once known as the "jewel in the crown" of the British empire.
In 2013, Cameron became the first British premier to visit the site of a notorious massacre in Amritsar in 1919 where troops under British control gunned down hundreds of unarmed protestors.
He described the killings as "shameful" but stopped short of a public apology.
Jaitley said the two countries now had a "partnership of equals".
"This lasting friendship is just one of many legacies left by Gandhi, which I am keen that we work hard to strengthen further," he added in a statement released ahead of the ceremony.
First Published: Mar 14, 2015 11:47 IST