Mahatma Gandhi’s statue will be unveiled in 2015 outside Britain’s parliament square

Lord Meghnad Desai, Economist and founder-trustee of the Gandhi statue Memorial Trust, and Lady Kishwar Desai addressed a press briefing at the “House of Lords” yesterday, regarding the installation of Gandhiji’s statue outside the parliament square.

Gandhi’s statue will be the last one to be placed in the Parliament Square.

While Desai has refused to give out the exact amount required, according to estimates the budget for the project is around 1 million pounds and initial donations and pledges have already raised nearly half that amount.

“I am not worried. The statue will be unveiled some time in 2015. I would like it to be on January 30th (Martyr’s Day) but I don’t want to set an exact date to leave some scope for any random acts that may take place,” said Desai.

An Indian donor has reportedly stepped in to offer a six-figure major chunk of the funds for the construction of the iconic statue. Lord Desai the name of the donor will be disclosed in due course.

“I had a call yesterday from someone in India and he promised me a six-figure sum in donation. He is a good friend and I am looking forward to that,” Desai said at a briefing

“The word is spreading around. We are getting very good support from donors and we have lots of pledges and money is also coming in through our website. I have also written to my colleagues in the House of Lords and they are doing their bit to help too. We are pretty sure we will achieve what we have set out to achieve,” he said.

Lord Meghnad Desai at a press meet

Lord Desai expressed his uncertainty about when the statue would be declared open to the public, after initially pinpointing 30th January as the day of the official unveiling.

“I don’t think one should make any future plans.  There’s something called randomness.  The best laid plans of mice and men, etc.  “It will be sometime in 2015.  Exactly when, I don’t know” , he said.

Lord Desai is planning to set up an archive called “Gandhi House” that would store books and memorabilia of the Mahatma.

Award winning Sculptor thanked The Indian High Commissioner, Ranjan Mathai for helping him find books on Gandhiji. He has also set up a meeting of the sculptor with Gandhiji’s grandson, Gopal Gandhi. Gopal Gandhi had the same eyes as Gandhi

The 9 ft tall bronze statue is inspired by a picture of Gandhi taken outside 10 Downing Street in 1931 after he had met with then-Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald for the famous Round Table conference.

The original picture shows a 62-year-old Gandhi smiling widely at reporters, wrapped up warm in an immense shawl that appears to drown the slightly-built independence leader.

Deepak Yadav, one of the major donors of the statue, says, he feels proud and gifted to be a part of this honourable project. He considers this more so as an investment than a donation.

Last week, Meghnad Desai told the Press that he would embark on a hunger strike to raise £1million required for the installation of the statue However, he denied mentioning it as ‘hunger strike’- instead it would be a 24-hour fast, provided he gets a green signal from his GP.

Fittingly, the Gandhi statue – once it is eventually and hopefully placed on its plinth – will be the final memorial in the famous patch of greenery in front of the Palace of Westminster and will, according to Jackson, enjoy the best position.

“Mahatma Gandhi will look directly at the Palace of Westminster.  At his back will be the Supreme Court which would please him.

“At night when all the tourists have gone and the Palace of Westminster is quiet, he has to his left Jan Smuts, to his right Nelson Mandela, behind him Abraham Lincoln and in front of him Winston Churchill.

“What could be better than that?”

Sharanya Bharathwaj