Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who led a high-level delegation to Johannesburg for attending the memorial service of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, said that India had great degree of love and respect for the great leader.
Shortly before leaving for Johannesburg, Mukherjee told reporters that the Indian delegation will convey to South Africans the "intense grief" felt by India over the "sad demise of our beloved Madiba".
"He was the last of the giants who led the world`s struggles against the colonialism and his struggle held special significance for us as we saw in him a reflection of our own prolonged anti-colonial struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi," he said.
Pranab is, remarkably, one of the only six heads of states who will be getting a chance to make a speech in the honour of the anti-apartheid icon.
Other five leaders who too will be addressing the gathering are US President Barack Obama, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Raul Castro of Cuba as well as Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao on the podium to address the crowd.
Other dignitaries in the Indian delegation are UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and BSP leader Satish Mishra.