Gandhi's statue to be erected in Britain's Leicester city

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London, Apr 16 (UNI) Mahatma Gandhi's statue may soon adorn the Leicester city of Britain as the City Council has approved the application by the charity Samanvaya Parivar to build the statue to honour the great Indian leader.

The charity has offered 20,000 pounds to pay for the statue, which will be erected near Orchardson Avenue in the Belgrave area of Leicester. The idea, however, has proved controversial, with thousands of people joining in the debate via the internet.

The planned statue would be 7ft high and sit on a 5ft high plinth and search is on for a sculptor. It would be situated on the city centre end of the Belgrave Road, known as ''the Golden Mile'', the heart of Leicester's Asian business community.

Jitu Achary of the Samanvaya Parivar charity said: ''We felt it appropriate, especially in the city of Leicester, where there is a vibrant multicultural society, to have a statue of Gandhi to actually symbolise his philosophy.'' He added there had been support for the application from all over the world, from places such as Australia, New Zealand, India and the US.The move prompted a debate on the Facebook website, with two petitions - one for and one against - on the Downing Street website.

The council received 17 objections but also petitions with 800 signatures in support. Approving the planning application, the local authority said it wanted to celebrate Gandhi's principals.

There was no debate at the meeting on the merits of having Gandhi's statue, a council spokesperson said. The statue will need to be installed within three years of the approval.

Leicester has a high British Asian population, and is predicted to be Britain's first white-minority city in 12 years. For several months, Gandhi was pitted against local heroes such as footballer Gary Lineker and DNA inventor Sir Alec Jeffreys, and supporters and opponents of Gandhi's statue debated its merits. The campaign for the statue also received the backing of Lord Richard Attenborough, better known for the Oscar-winning film, 'Gandhi'.

General secretary of Samanvaya Parivar Jitendra Acharya said: ''We have never said that there should not be any other statues in Leicester. This particular statue of Gandhi would be entirely funded by our charity as a gift to the city.

''It will add to the vibrant and multicultural elements of this city since Gandhi's philosophies of truth, peace and non-violence had no boundaries.'' UNI XC ARB GC1634

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