The Mayor of Leicester has committed to protecting the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the heart of the city of Central England. An online petition to save the threatened monument attracted over 6,000 signatures.
Peter Soulsby confirmed his support for the monument as a "great pride" for the city in response to a letter from former Indian MP Keith Vaz from Leicester East, who has been leading a campaign since an online petition called for the statue to be removed last week .
"I am delighted to be able to give you the absolute certainty that there is no prospect that the Council will agree to the removal of the statue at any time – and certainly not while I am the mayor," said Soulsby, the Labor leader the City Council of Leicester.
"It was a great pride that with the generous support of the donors, our city was able to celebrate the life of Bapu, which was so inspiring for the creation of modern India and such an example for the rest of the world," he said.
The bronze statue depicting the leader of the struggle for freedom on his characteristic step in the city's famous Belgrave Road Golden Mile was highlighted last week with an online petition claiming "Remove the Gandhi Statue in Leicester" "Gandhi is a" facist ", racist and sexual predator".
A counter petition launched this week on Change.Org, "Save the Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester," has since attracted thousands of signatures to assist in just a few days.
"The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester should never be removed as it resembles independence, non-violence and peace," the petition said.
"Together we have to fight for justice and save the statue of Gandhi," he adds.
The sculpture by Kolkata artist Gautam Pal was unveiled in 2006 after a fundraiser from the Indian charity Samanwaya Pariwar.
Vaz, the former Labor MP from Goa, who was present at the launch, held a socially distant silent demonstration last week in accordance with the rules for blocking coronavirus at the monument, which is followed by another show by "Leicester Stands With Gandhiji" followed support on Friday.
Leicester City Council said all representations would be taken into account as part of a wider review of the city's statues, street and building names, following similar initiatives taken by local authorities across Britain in the wake of Black Lives Matter's anti-racism protests against statues with a dubious slave trade history.
"In a city as culturally diverse as Leicester, it is important that we respect the history of all our communities and understand the context for the historical references that are part of our streetscape and built environment," said a spokesman for the council.
Statues across Britain have become a focus of the protests in recent days. London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordered covers for sculptures on Parliament Square in the British capital after graffiti attacks on some of the monuments.
The Mayor's Office in London confirmed that after talking to the Metropolitan Police, the statues of Gandhi and South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela should be exposed on the square.
"After discussions with the Met, the covers of the Gandhi and Mandela statues are to be removed before the weekend," said a spokesman.
The statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the same square had already been exposed on Thursday in time for French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to London.