Opposition vice presidential candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Tuesday justified his efforts to save Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon from the gallows, saying the practice of capital punishment was medieval and wrong.
Facing criticism from the ruling side for backing Memon's mercy plea, he said he did so drawing inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, who were against death penalty and wanted it abolished.
Gandhi filed his nomination papers today in the presence of former prime minister Manmohan Singh and top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Also present were other opposition leaders, including JD (U)'s Sharad Yadav, CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, NCP's Tariq Anwar and Praful Patel, NC's Farooq Abdullah and DMK's Kanimozhi.
"In our country, we are living in times of division. A whole force which is dividing our country is in action mode and that spells danger," Gandhi said after filing his papers.
He said he was representing the common citizen of the country and not any political party and would try and help bridge the gulf between the public and politics.
"People's faith in politics itself has diminished and has collapsed. I would like to see a revival of that faith," he said.
Responding to the Shiv Sena's attack on him for petitioning the president to save Memon, Gandhi said, "Shiv Sena is doing its duty with dedication. What Shiv Sena has said, it had to. I feel that the death penalty and capital punishment belong to the medieval ages. Death penalty is wrong and this is my principle."
He said he had also written a similar petition for Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav, facing death sentence in Pakistan.
"As a common, independent citizen, it is my duty to fulfil my principles. I believe in that. I have drawn inspiration on death penalty from two persons - Mahatma Gandhi who was opposed it and Babasaheb Ambedkar, who said it is only proper abolish it".
The former West Bengal governor, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari, has been picked by 18 opposition parties to be their nominee for the post of vice president.
The vice presidential election is scheduled to be held on August 5.
Gandhi will contest against the NDA's candidate M Venkaiah Naidu.