An Early Day Motion (EDM) to mark the unveiling of a new statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Parliament Square here was tabled in the House of Commons today by Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz.
“People from around the world will be reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s incredible legacy on the 14th March, as one of the most influential political figures of all time,” said the Labour MP and chair of the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee.
“The ceremony will be deeply symbolic of the cultural and political bonds shared by the United Kingdom and India, as our increasingly interlinked countries continue to forge a close and deeply important relationship.
“The strength of this symbolism is demonstrated by the hundreds of generous donors across the UK and India, who made this ceremony possible,” he said.
EDMs allow MPs in Britain to draw attention to an event or cause and register their support by signing individual motions. There is generally no debate held on such a motion.
Vaz also welcomed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to the UK to be present at the high-profile ceremony to be attended by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I am very proud that we will be joined at the ceremony by the Indian finance minister, Arun Jaitley. It is marvellous that somebody so senior is coming to unveil the statue,” he said.
Jaitley is expected to arrive in London late on March 12 and his official engagements will kick off from March 13, when he is expected to meet his UK counterpart George Osborne.
An investors’ meet in the City of London, a visit to the London Stock Exchange and inauguration of the Union Bank of India (UK) Limited, the first overseas subsidiary of Union Bank of India, are on his agenda for next Friday.
He will also deliver a lecture titled ‘Investment Opportunities in India’ co-organised by the Indian High Commission, Federation Chambers of Indian Commerce and Industry and UK India Business Council, before attending a felicitation dinner hosted by the NRI Foundation.
The unveiling of the Gandhi statue will take place early on March 14, followed by a gala reception at the Durbar Hall in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The project marks the culmination of a worldwide fundraising drive by the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, founded by NRI economist Lord Meghnad Desai.
The sculpture has been created by award-winning sculptor Peter Jackson, based on Gandhi’s last visit to London in 1931. It will stand alongside iconic figures like Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, overlooking the Palace of Westminster.
Donations crossed the 1-million pounds mark last month with Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal among some of the key donors.