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I am president because of Mahatma Gandhi : Obama

US President Barack Obama on paid his ultimate homage to Mahatma Gandhi for guiding him to the presidency of the world's oldest democracy.

"I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as president of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared with America and the world," Obama told Indian MPs to thunderous applause. 

He said the Nov 6-9 visit to India held a special meaning for himself and his wife Michelle. 

"Throughout my life, including my work as a young man on behalf of the urban poor, I have always found inspiration in the life of Gandhiji and in his simple and profound lesson to be the change we seek in the world. 

"As just as he summoned Indians to seek their destiny, he influenced champions of equality in my own country, including a young Martin Luther King. 

"After making his pilgrimage to India half as century ago, King called Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence resistance 'the only logical and moral approach in the struggle for justice and progress'." 

Obama, who said he was profoundly moved by his visits to Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi residence in Mumbai and at Rajghat, the memorial in Delhi that stands at the spot Gandhi was cremated, had earlier described Gandhi as the "hero to the world".