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Keith Vaz seeks UK govt help for Mahatma Gandhi statue

PTI 23 Nov 2014, 12:57:11 PM IST
PTI

London: Britain's longest serving MP of Asian origin Keith Vaz has asked the UK government to support the installation of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament Square.

"The British government must step in and provide support for this vital homage to one of history's greatest leaders," said Vaz, the Chairman of Britain's Home Affairs Committee.

"Chancellor George Osborne's announcement of the creation of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square was warmly welcomed. However, I am concerned to learn that Lord Desai, who together with his wife are trustees of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust, is contemplating beginning a hunger-strike to raise much needed funds for the statue," he said.

The statue is apparently going to cost 1 million pounds, including a staggering 250,000 pounds for the sculptor.

In addition, security on the unveiling day will cost 100,000 pounds and almost 90,000 pounds will have to be spent in Greater London Authority fees.

"I hope the Mayor of London will waive these costs, considering his long-stated desire for closer UK-Indian relations," Vaz said in a statement.

Leicester has its own Mahatma Gandhi statue which had cost 35,000 pounds.

"We have greatly benefitted from our historical and present relationship with India, which is at an all-time high. David Cameron has visited India four times in four years. We also have in our possession a number of items that belong to India, including the Koh-i-Noor diamond," he said.

"The British Asian community is keen to ensure that either the President of India or Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to the United Kingdom to unveil this statue," he added.