London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cited his predecessors Jawaharlal Nehru and Manmohan Singh to highlight the connected histories of India and the UK during his historic address to British MPs.
“So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship,” Modi said.
“I will only say that many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors,” he said amid criticism from the opposition that Modi in his speeches ignored the legacy of Nehru and the Congress party in India’s progress.
Modi thanked Commons Speaker John Bercow for opening the doors of the Royal Court to him despite the Parliament is not in session.
“There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry…. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India,” he said.
“On the way to this event, Prime Minister (David) Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament?
“To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness; Indians are generous enough to share him; we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship,” he said.
“At the heart of London, in the middle of Parliament Square, Bapu is immortalised. The 2 PMs (Modi and Cameron) pay homage to the Mahatma,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted as Modi for the first time saw the statue near the British Parliament and paid tributes to the Father of Nation.