The Leicester City Council on Friday ruled out the possibility of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue being removed from an arterial road in the city, days after an online petition seeking its removal with over 6,000 signatures was submitted to the council.
Peter Soulsby, mayor of Leicester, gave the assurance that the statue installed on Belgrave Road in 2009 will not be removed in a letter to former Labour MP from Leicester East, Keith Vaz. The city in the east Midlands has a large population of Indian origin.
Soulsby, a Labour party politician, wrote: “I well remember the pride and pleasure we enjoyed when this very prominent statue was unveiled on Belgrave Road”.
“It was a matter of great pride that our City with the generous support of the donors was able to celebrate the life of Bapu who was so inspirational in the creation of modern India and such as example to the rest of the world”.
“I am delighted to be able to give you an absolute assurance that there is no prospect whatsoever of the council agreeing at any time to the removal of the statue – and certainly not while I remain Mayor”, Soulsby added.
The council had previously noted that it was aware of the petition and would consider it as part of wider review of statues, street names and building names in the city. The review was sparked all over the UK by the Black Lives Matter campaign against symbols of racism and slavery.
According to a council spokesperson, “In such a culturally-diverse city as Leicester, it’s important that we respect the histories of all our communities and understand the context for the historical references that are part of our streetscape and built environment.”
The Gandhi statue in Leicester installed with donations from charity organisation Samanwaya Pariwar is among seven across the UK: Tavistock Square, London (1968), Parliament Square, London (2015); Saughton Park, Edinburgh (1997); Museum Quarter, Hull (2004); Belgrave Road, Leicester (2009); Cardiff Bay, Cardiff (2017), and Manchester (2019).