Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigns after row over him attending religious conversion event
The Aam Aadmi Party leader said that he did not want Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the outfit to suffer any harm due to his actions.
Delhi minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Rajendra Pal Gautam on Sunday resigned from his post days after a video was shared on social media of him attending an event where some Hindus vowed to convert to Buddhism.
Gautam, the social welfare minister in the Delhi government, had attended the event on October 5 and shared its pictures, saying that 10,000 intellectuals took a pledge to make a caste-free and untouchable India by adopting the Buddhist faith.
On Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party had sought Gautam’s resignation. BJP Lok Sabha MP Manoj Tiwari had alleged that the event was an attempt to incite hatred among Hindus and Buddhists.
A day later, Banners calling Kejriwal “anti-Hindu” and showing him in a Muslim prayer cap were also pasted in several Gujarat cities. The Aam Aadmi Party is seeking to make a foray in the Gujarat Assembly elections that are slated to take place in December.
In his resignation letter on Sunday, Gautam said that he did not want Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party to suffer any harm due to his actions. He reiterated that he only repeated vows taken by BR Ambedkar, that include a pledge for equality and no faith in deities.
Gautam said that these vows are repeated “at thousands of places” by persons who adopt Buddhism, ANI reported. He said that these vows are also written at Deekshabhoomi, the monument at Nagpur that marks the place where Ambedkar embraced Buddhism with his followers.
“Union minister Nitin Gadkari, and several other BJP leaders, have visited Deekshabhoomi on many occasions,” he said. “Why is the BJP trying to defame me and my leader in connection with these vows?”
The Aam Aadmi Party leader said he attended the event on October 5 in his personal capacity and that the party had nothing to do with it.
Gautam accused the BJP of carrying out “dirty politics” in connection with the event, and said that it was extremely saddening for him.
He also alleged that he was being threatened on social media, but said that the threats would not affect him. “Some people with a Manuwadi mindset are threatening me, my family and my supporters,” he said. “But I will not be scared of such threats.”
Manuwadi are the proponents of Manusmriti, a Hindu scripture authored by an ascetic named Manu. that has been widely criticised for its gender and caste-based codes.
Meanwhile, Adesh Gupta, the chief of the BJP’s Delhi unit, said that the resignation was a slap to the Aam Aadmi Party’s “anti-Hindu mindset”.
“Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-Hindu face has been exposed before the people of Gujarat, which is why he got his minister to resign,” he said. “But he has not expressed any regret for his anti-Hindu mentality, and neither has he sought an apology for hurting religious sentiments.”