National

Varun Gandhi defies party line on death penalty

BJP MP Varun Gandhi.  

The debate on the death penalty, triggered by the execution of the Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon, continues to fray party lines, with Varun Gandhi, a Bharatiya Janata Party MP, being the latest to speak out against it in defiance of party stance.

In a signed column in a weekly magazine and as a participant at the Law Commission’s recent consultation on the death penalty, Mr. Gandhi, along with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, favoured its abolition, to the chagrin of their parties.

Mr. Gandhi told The Hindu that he did not see his view as a “defiance” of the party line. “I haven’t spoken about the specific case of Yakub Memon or referred to the particulars of his case. I happen to believe that historically, the death penalty has not been a deterrent to heinous crimes, and it has been empirically borne out over the past many years,” he said.

In his column, he described the death penalty as something that validated “vengeance”, and called the hangman a “disgrace to civilised society”.

‘Not a corrective step’

He said the BJP had not explicitly stated its position on the death penalty. “No party has really applied its mind, since 1947, to the question of the death penalty,” he said. “Even in the whole debate on Yakub Memon, the emphasis has been on the need for a corrective; I also believe that there is a need for a corrective in society, but the death penalty is not that corrective measure.”

Personal view: BJP

The BJP distanced itself from Mr. Gandhi’s comments, calling them his personal view. “Varun Gandhi writes regular columns and articles in newspapers. He has articulated his view, not necessarily that of the party,” Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Asked about any disciplinary action against actor and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha for having signed a petition for clemency for Yakub Memon on the eve of his execution, Mr. Prasad said: “I don’t want to answer this question.”

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 3:34:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/varun-gandhi-defies-party-line-on-death-penalty/article7490278.ece

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