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.

Sport
File photo of Lewis Hamilton celebrating becoming World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he was made favourite to become the first motor racing winner of Sports Personality of the Year since Damon Hill
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible