Former Delhi minister who attended conversion event says he has formally embraced Buddhism
Rajendra Pal Gautam resigned from his post on Sunday after the Bharatiya Janata Party accused him of inciting hatred between Hindus and Buddhists.
Former Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, who resigned from his post after a controversy erupted over his presence at a religious conversion event, said that he formally embraced Buddhism that day, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
“I am officially declaring that on that day [October 5] I took the vows... I took deeksha,” Gautam told the newspaper. “I will declare it as my official date of conversion [to Buddhism] on paper. Before that [event] I was officially not [a Buddhist].
Gautam, who was the social welfare minister in the Delhi government, had attended the event on October 5 in the national capital. He had claimed said that 10,000 persons took a pledge to make a caste-free and untouchable India by adopting the Buddhist faith and also took an oath that they would not pray to Hindu deities.
A day later, banners calling Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal “anti-Hindu” and showing him in a Muslim prayer cap were pasted in several Gujarat cities just hours ahead of his Assembly elections campaign rally.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had also demanded Gautam’s resignation and had alleged that the event he attended was an attempt to incite hatred among Hindus and Buddhists. Gautam resigned from his post on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Gautam told The Hindu he has been following Ambedkar’s teachings for three decades.
“The atrocities against the Bahujan community compelled me to follow the path of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,” he said.
Gautam also alleged that controversy was created over the October 5 event by the BJP to polarise the upcoming Gujarat elections.
“The BJP has no other issue to get people’s votes,” he said. “They want to portray that Arvind Kejriwal is against the Hindus. But this is not true in any way. Arvind Kejriwal and AAP were not part of the programme [conversion event].”
He added: “For about 25 years I have taken part in such events. I did not think that it will become a problem.”