New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her successor Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday paid tributes to South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela on his birth centenary.
In a letter to the African National Congress, Sonia Gandhi described Mandela as a man of "indomitable spirit and extraordinary courage".
"For me personally, it was an immense privilege to meet him, and to experience his magnetic charisma, the warmth of his personality, and the strength of his convictions.
"...I and my colleagues at Indian National Congress, join you and your comrades in the ANC in celebrating Madiba's (Mandela's) life and in saluting his memory," she said.
Rahul Gandhi also recalled his meeting with the South African leader, saying: "We spoke at length about the need for a nation to forgive its oppressors and to heal, but to never forget the oppression unleashed on it.
"...he told me that it was India's freedom struggle and the life of Mahatama Gandhi that had helped shape his beliefs."
Gandhi wrote that Mandela's birth centenary is also a time to remember the historic, cultural, and political bonds between the people of South Africa and India.
"These bonds were further strengthened during the struggle for South African independence and in the long years that Madiba was in prison, when the INC stood shoulder to shoulder with the ANC in solidarity against oppression, apartheid and colonial exploitation," he said.