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Peace loving Gandhi to have a statue in Parliament Square, ministers announce… after hailing £250m arms deal with India

By  | 
  • Statue of Gandhi a ‘fitting tribute to democratic India’ says Osborne
  • Announcement made on Government trade mission to Mumbai and Delhi
  • Comes after ministers announce air-to-air missile deal with Indian Air Force
  • Gandhi statue be placed next to British war leader Sir Winston Churchill
  • Former Prime Minister dismissed Gandhi as a ‘nauseating’ fraud 

By Tom Mctague, Mail Online Deputy Political Editor

A statue of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi will be erected outside Parliament, George Osborne has announced today.

The Chancellor, in New Delhi with Foreign Secretary William Hague, said it would be a fitting tribute to the ‘father of democratic India’.

But the decision to honour the 20th Century’s most famous pacifist came just 24 hours after the Government announced a £250million arms deal with India. 

Mr Osborne confirmed a deal to provide air-to-air missiles for the Indian Air Force in a joint venture between BAE Systems, the Franco-German group Airbus and Finmeccanica of Italy.

The two Cabinet ministers are also promoting the sale of the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, which is partly built in Britain. India is looking to buy 126 fighter jets and had identified the French Rafale as its preferred choice.

Yet repeated delays on signing the deal have left Britain hopeful that India may yet opt to buy the Typhoon.

Tushar Gandhi, a social activist and the great-grandson of the independence leader, said it was ironic the ministers had announced plans for the statue during a visit partly taken up with promoting weapons sales.

He said: ‘It’s a nice way to apply a soothing balm to their consciences, to raise a statute. How can anybody say they approve of this?’

But Mr Osborne wrote on Twitter: ‘Gandhi was father of democratic India. Can announce we’ll honour his memory with statue in front of mother of parliaments in Parliament Sq.’

The statue will stand alongside monuments to other statesmen including Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in the square.

The Government hopes the statue will be erected next year, funded by charitable donations and sponsors, with leading sculptor Philip Jackson approached to take on the project.

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