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Gandhi, Nehru two leaders I feel closest to: Suu Kyi

November 14, 2012 18:40 IST

Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday said Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were the two Indian leaders to whom she felt "closest" and recalled how she and India's first prime minister had many things in common.

The India-educated pro-democracy icon, who is coming to this country after 25 years, said many of the challenges faced by Gandhi and Nehru along the path to India's independence were the ones her movement had been facing over the course of its struggle which will mark its quarter century next year.

"The survival of their relationship, which was both personal and political, inspite of their many differences, is one of the triumphs of Indian politics," Suu Kyi said delivering the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture, 17 years after she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru memorial prize in 1995, the year she was released from her first house arrest.

67-year-old Suu Kyi, whose father General Aung San -- regarded as Myanmar's independence hero -- was a personal friend of Nehru, last visited India in 1987 when she travelled to Shimla to join her husband Michael Aris, who was studying in the hill station.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi in her address described Suu Kyi's five-day visit as "something of homecoming" and told the democracy leader that she was the "worthy inheritor" of a "noble father's legacy."

Sonia said Suu Kyi's vision of politics as an "ethical calling" has inspired people the world over.

"As in the case of Mahatma Gandhi, her life is her message," Sonia said, adding that Nehru too has been a source of some inspiration for the pro-democracy leader.

Suu Kyi said Mahatma Gandhi's influence on her political thinking is widely recognised but the influence of Nehru on her life in politics is less well known.

Suu Kyi's visit is an emotional one because she spent several years in India as a student in the early 1960s while her mother was ambassador to India.

The democracy leader, who was freed by the military junta in 2010, is also due to visit the Lady Shri Ram college in New Delhi, where she graduated with a degree in politics.

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi holds books on Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi on Wednesday

Photograph: B Mathur/Reuters

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