Over the last few weeks, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson and former West Bengal Governor, has faced a barrage of attacks from political opponents, who questioned his mercy petition for terrorist Yakub Memon, who was executed in Nagpur jail in 2015, over his role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
The Shiv Sena had trained its guns on Gandhi for a while and yesterday Bharatiya Janata Party's general secretary Arun Singh questioned Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's decision to support Gandhi, the Opposition's vice presidential candidate. Times Now had a entire debate on whether Gandhi would fail what they called a 'patriot pariksha', a test for patriotism.
"It is ironic that Patnaik has supported a person who had sought mercy for a terrorist," Singh said. Right wing handles on Twitter engaged in a relentless campaign to besmirch his name and mocked his credentials. They implied that the mercy plea for Memon was Gandhi's "only credentials". Rajiv Chandrasekhar, MP, wrote in a tweet: "Filing a mercy petition for someone who was convicted for mass murder is a campaign theme to be Vice-President?"
On Tuesday, as he filed his nomination papers, Gandhi had the perfect answer for his haters.
"Mahatma Gandhi opposed death penalty. He fell to assassins' bullets, but his two sons appealed to the government of the day, saying that Nathuram Godse should not be hanged, Narayan Apte should not be hanged, because Gandhiji was opposed to death sentence..I belong to that school of thought," he said.
He said both Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, a Dalit icon, were opposed to the death penalty.
"Death penalty is a death penalty, I have also written to Pakistan President for Kulbhushanji (Jadhav)," he said. "Death penalty and capital punishment belong to the medieval ages," he added.
Former India Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death in a Field General Court Martial in April this year on charges of spying.
"Mahatma Gandhi opposed death penalty. He fell to assassins' bullets, but his two sons appealed to the government of the day, saying that Nathuram Godse should not be hanged."
Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held today.
Gandhi was accompanied by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge yesterday while filing his nomination.
Besides, Janata Dal-United's Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, Nationalist Congress Party's Tariq Anwar and Praful Patel, Communist Party of India's D. Raja, DMK's Kanimozhi, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien, Bahujan Samaj Party's Satish Chandra Mishra and National Conference's Farooq Abdullah were among those present with Gopal Gandhi, reported IANS.
Gandhi also said he would like to reduce the gap between politics and citizens.