London: The principles of Mahatma Gandhi will counter-balance any plans for a temple in memory of his assassin Nathuram Godse, the iconic leader's grandson has said, asserting that India needs Gandhi more than ever before.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the former Governor of West Bengal, made a passing reference to moves by Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Masabha to build Godse's temple, during his address at Parliament Square here to mark the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi's statue recently.
"The fact that London, the capital of the then Imperial Power he (Gandhi) dis-engaged India from, raises a statue for him even as India has some of her people contemplate a temple for his assassin, shows that Gandhi's work for truth in freedom succeeds in the most unbelievable ways," he said to roaring applause from the crowds gathered to mark the occasion over the weekend.
The 69-year-old former diplomat represented Gandhi family at the event led by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
He said: "On behalf of the Gandhi family, by which I mean not his biological descendants ? for he did not elevate family descent ?? but all those anywhere who fight against the tyranny of bigotry and exploitation, I felicitate Great Britain and Her Majesty's Government for creating space for this?Gandhi statue on this great Square.
"That large family of Gandhi's values celebrates the fact of his statue taking its place right beside that of his political descendant, Nelson Mandela," he said.
The son of Devadas Gandhi, the youngest of Mahatma Gandhi's four sons, also used the platform to make a clarion call for women's rights in India.
He said: "We need him in India today more than we ever have. He said there was so much he had left unfinished he would like to be re-born. But he would not want us to be looking out for the re-born Gandhi. In any case, that would be a loser's way of doing things. India is no loser.
"India finds herself, from the debris of her mistakes, the ruins of her aspirations. I have used 'she' for India with deliberation for that 'she', the woman in India, worshipped in concept but neglected, exploited, abused in reality, is the one of the scorching truths of India."
On a more personal note, he added: "You were not infallible Mohandas Gandhi, you erred often, as your wife, Kasturba knew more than any other person. But you owned your errors, tried always to be better than your best."
The 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Gandhi created by sculptor Philip Jackson stands at its permanent home in Parliament Square opposite Britain's Houses of Parliament.
Gandhi is the first Indian and the only person never to have been in a public office to be honoured with a statue at the Square.
The statue stands exactly opposite Britain's Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and adjacent to iconic leaders like anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Gandhi's statue also has Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill for company, an irony given the ex-premier's dismissive thoughts of someone he described as a "half naked fakir".