NEW DELHI: The opposition's vice presidential candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Monday came in for criticism from the Shiv Sena for having sought mercy for Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon, but the Congress defended the decision.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut today accused the former West Bengal governor of "putting all his might" to save Memon, a "bombing plotter", from gallows.
"Memon was a bombing plotter and a pawn in the hands of Pakistan which waged war against India. Gandhi had put all his might to save Memon. He had written a letter to the President seeking mercy for Memon.
"You have nominated such a man as the vice presidential candidate. What type of mindset is this? Narrow or broad? Is this in the national interest?" he asked.
Coming to Gandhi's defence, Congress leader Anand Sharma questioned on what basis was the Sena questioning the credentials of Gandhi who had distinguished himself as a civil servant and India's envoy to South Africa and Sri Lanka.
"If they are questioning the credentials of the person of the stature of Gopal Krishna Gandhi ji, who stands by Gandhian values, who has distinguished himself in every assignment - as a civil servant, as India's high commissioner to South Africa, to Sri Lanka as an ambassador, as a professor.... On what basis are they questioning?" he said.
Sharma also said the Congress party needed no certificate from those questioning Gandhi's credentials as it had made great sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.
Memon was the lone convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case who was sent to the gallows.
He was executed on July 30, 2015 in connection with the serial blasts that claimed over 250 lives and left more than 700 others injured.
The Congress-led opposition had on July 11 picked Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, as their candidate. The election is scheduled for August 5.
The BJP parliamentary board met here this evening and chose Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu as the NDA's nominee for the election.