UK pledges statue in honour of Gandhi

New Delhi -

Mahatma Gandhi, who was at the forefront of efforts to end British rule in India and was repeatedly imprisoned, is to be honoured outside Britain's parliament, British Finance Minister George Osborne said on Tuesday.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (right) and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague arrive to address a news conference in Mumbai, India, on July 7, 2014. Picture: Shailesh Andrade. Credit: Reuters

Osborne, on a trip to New Delhi to meet the new government of Narendra Modi, wrote on Twitter that Britain would “honour his memory with statue in front of mother of parliaments” in Parliament Square.

This would mean India's “father of the nation” will stand near his one-time nemesis, British war-time prime minister Winston Churchill, who once said he hoped Gandhi would die from fasting and famously derided him as a “half-naked fakir”.

Parliament Square is opposite the Palace of Westminster, which houses the British legislature, and is filled with statues of statesmen and other historical figures.

As well as the imposing figure of Churchill, the square includes a statue to honour another of Gandhi's adversaries, Jan Smuts, a prime minister of South Africa in the early 20th century who favoured segregation.

Gandhi first began campaigning for the rights of downtrodden Indians while working as a lawyer in South Africa, where he was jailed by Smuts's government.

Osborne, as well as Foreign Secretary William Hague, will meet Modi later on Tuesday as part of efforts to push for trade and access for British companies to the Indian market. - Sapa-AFP