Friday, Sep 29, 2023

Delhi Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam Resigns Over Religious Conversion Controversy

Delhi Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam Resigns Over Religious Conversion Controversy

Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam lashed out at the BJP for targeting Arvind Kejriwal and AAP, alleging the saffron party was doing ‘dirty politics’ on the issue

Arvind Kejriwal press conference
File photo of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: PTI

Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigned from his post on Sunday amid a controversy over his presence at a religious conversion event where Hindu deities were allegedly denounced.

The BJP had used the issue to attack AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal during the election campaigning in Gujarat and accused him of being "anti-Hindu".

In a letter shared on Twitter, Gautam said he attended the event in his personal capacity and it had nothing to do with his party or the ministry. He lashed out at the BJP for targeting Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), alleging the saffron party was doing ''dirty politics'' on the issue.

Gautam said he is resigning as minister as he does not want his leader or AAP to be in trouble because of him.

The controversy erupted last week after a video went viral in which Gautam is seen at an event on October 5 where hundreds took a pledge to convert to Buddhism and to not consider Hindu deities as gods.

Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said that Gautam had resigned due to pressure from the BJP.

He said that only the minister's resignation is not enough and legal action should also be taken against Gautam and he should also be expelled from the party for "condemning Hindu gods and goddesses".

"Apart from this, resignations should also be taken from the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and minister Satyendra Jain who are involved in corruption," the BJP leader said.

Gautam had accused the BJP of spreading "rumours" against him, and apologised to "anyone who has been hurt due to such propaganda".

"I do not want my leader Shri Arvind Kejriwal or the party to be in any trouble because of me. I am a true solider of the party and I will follow the ideals shown by Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Gautam Buddh throughout my entire life," he said on Sunday.

Sources in the chief minister's office said Gautam's resignation letter has been received by the chief minister and a decision on it is pending.

Gautam was the Minister for Social Welfare, SC and ST, Registrar of Co-operative Societies and Gurudwara Elections. He is an MLA from Seemapuri constituency.

The AAP leader said he participated in the October 5 event "as a member of a society in personal capacity" and it had nothing to do with his party and the council of ministers.

He said Rajratana Ambedkar, the great-grandson of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, reiterated the 22 pledges (people take while embracing Buddhism) at the event and he had also repeated them along with more than 10,000 people.

"Since then, the BJP has been targeting our leader Arvind Kejriwal ji and the AAP which has pained me a lot," the letter read.

Gautam said crores of people repeat these 22 pledges at thousands of places across the country every year.

"The BJP is playing dirty politics on the issue which has pained me and therefore, I am resigning from my ministerial post," he said.

He alleged that the BJP has objections to Baba Saheb Ambedkar and his 22 pledges.

Gautam thanked Kejriwal for giving him respect and support and praised his party for the work done in the sectors of education, health, women and child development, social welfare, electricity and water.

He said the incidents of violence against the members of the Dalit community over the last few years and the discrimination on the basis of caste "impales his heart". 

(With PTI inputs)


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