Gandhi or Gary? Why Leicester can't decide who should sit on plinth

One was a footballing hero, rated among England's most prolific strikers; the other is the world's most celebrated pacifist and the spiritual leader who led India to independence.

Now, Gary Lineker and Mahatma Gandhi could be pitted against each other as one of Britain's most multicultural cities ponders whose image to erect as a commemorative statue. Initial plans to install one of Gandhi in Leicester are opposed by residents who feel a local hero, such as Lineker, deserves the honour.

Leicester has a high British Asian population, and is predicted to be Britain's first white-minority city in 12 years. An initial "No Gandhi Statue" online petition by residents soon made way for a more official protest petition with 211 signatures on the Downing Street website.

Lee Ingram, a Leicester resident who set up the first petition, said he felt there were more deserving local figures of note. "Gandhi is a historical figure connected to India. He has no connection to English culture or the English, therefore a statue of him would be more suitably erected in India. This would be yet another symbol of segregation in Leicester and it would be something else for the Asian community. We have local heroes here, Lineker or the writer, Joe Orton. In the local paper, I read letters which say Gandhi was a more controversial figure than some believe."

But Samanwaya Parivar, the charity behind the plan for the 12ft bronze structure, is confident its planning application will be accepted by Leicester City Council, the Eastern Eye newspaper reported. Jitendra Acharya, the charity's general secretary, said it would fund the project at a cost of up to £20,000, and that they had overwhelming support from the community.

"It is good the issue is being debated," he said. "We have never said that there should not be any other statues in Leicester. This particular statue of Gandhi will be entirely funded by our charity as a gift to the city. It will add to the vibrant and multicultural elements of this city since Gandhi's philosophies of truth, peace and non-violence had no boundaries."

Keith Vaz, the MP for Leicester East, who has tabled an early-day motion in Parliament to raise awareness of the project, said Gandhi's "philosophy of brotherhood among those of different religions and ethnicity should be honoured and celebrated". He added: "A statue [of Gandhi] will be an excellent symbol of his and Leicester's commitment to diversity."

Leicester council's leader, Ross Willmott, said: "Gandhi was a person whose teachings transcended any particular nation or faith. His teaching and way of life showed us peace and non-violent protest can change the world. I would be proud to see a statue in our city that was a reminder to us all of his philosophy of peace."

Britain already has a statue of Gandhi, in Tavistock Square, in central London.

Man of peace vs gentleman striker

Mahatma Gandhi

Born: 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, India

Greatest achievements: A seminal figure of the Indian Independence Movement, which led to the departure of the British and India's partition in 1947.

Life philosophy: Pioneer of "Satyagraha", a philosophy concerned with pacifism and "resistance to evil through non-violence" which inspired civil rights movements across the world.

Also synonymous with: A UN general assembly resolution on 15 June 2007 for his birth date to become the "International Day of Non-Violence".

Gary Lineker

Born: 30 November 1960 in Leicester

Greatest achievement: England footballer who scored 48 goals in 80 appearances (one short of Bobby Charlton's record), including 10 goals in two World Cup tournaments.

Life philosophy: Gentleman on the pitch who was never cautioned by a referee during a career in which he made more than 600 appearances for England, Leicester, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham.

Also synonymous with: The Walkers crisps advertising campaign.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice