Big B invited for reading at Gandhi statue unveiling in UK

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan is expected to attend a special reading at the unveiling of a Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square in UK on Saturday.

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan Pic/Satyajit Desai

"We are really excited about Mr Bachchan's presence at the unveiling. He will be doing a reading," a spokesperson for the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) told PTI.

Bachchan, 72, retweeted the announcement made by DCMS on their Twitter account.

The news follows a recent announcement that the first viewing of the bronze sculpture by artist Philip Jackson will be open to the British public when Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley officially unveils it.

He is expected to be joined by the British Prime Minister David Cameron and other leading members of the British Cabinet, including culture secretary Sajid Javid.

The event will feature live music and personal reflections from Gandhi's grandson and former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

"It is with great pleasure that I have accepted Prime Minister Cameron's invitation to attend the inauguration of the new statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square in London. Mahatma Gandhi will be honoured in this most prestigious location for his work in peacefully leading India¿s struggle for independence," Jaitley said in a statement in reference to his two-day UK visit starting tomorrow.

"The statue will help ensure that the legacy of Gandhi lives on for future generations. It also marks an important, historic moment celebrating the strong bond between our two nations. India and the UK share the same values and we are a partnership of equals.

"This lasting friendship is just one of many legacies left by Gandhi, which I am keen that we work hard to strengthen further," he added.

Jaitley will kick off his engagements tomorrow with a breakfast meeting with his UK counterpart, Chancellor George Osborne, at his No 11 Downing Street office. It will be followed by a meeting with UK exchequer secretary to the Treasury and Cameron¿s Indian Diaspora Champion, Priti Patel.

An investors' meet at the London Stock Exchange will be followed by the inauguration of a new Union Bank of India branch in the City of London.

The Indian finance minister is then scheduled to address a large gathering on `Investment Opportunities in India¿, accompanied by a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) delegation led by president Jyotsna Suri.

Jaitley will then engage with members of the Indian Diaspora from across the UK at a dinner organised by the NRI Foundation and hosted by Baroness Sandy Verma, UK minister for energy and climate change.

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