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AAP minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigns after row over attending mass conversion event

According to a viral video, thousands of people were seen denouncing Hindu gods at the event.

Shashwat Bhandari Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari New Delhi Updated on: October 10, 2022 0:24 IST
AAP minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigns over his presence
Image Source : FILE PHOTO AAP minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigns over his presence at mass conversion event

AAP minister resigns: Delhi's Minister of Social Welfare Rajendra Pal Gautam, who was spotted at a mass 'religious conversion' event in Delhi a few days ago, have resigned.

According to a viral video, thousands of people were seen denouncing Hindu gods at the event.

Speaking after his resignation, AAP Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said, "such issue has been created out of oaths that are repeated by several crore people of country. BJP has made it an issue, are trying to insult me & my party."

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, who was the Minister for Social Welfare, SC and ST, Registrar of Co-operative Societies and Gurudwara Elections, said he is resigning as minister as he does not want his leader or AAP to be in trouble because of him.

According to sources in the chief minister's office, Gautam's resignation letter has been received by the CM and a decision on it is pending. AAP sources said that the next minister will be from the same community as Gautam.

Ambedkar Nagar MLA Ajay Dutt and Kondli legislator Kuldeep Kumar are the frontrunners among the leaders being considered for the post, they said.

Delhi BJP leaders said Gautam's resignation is not enough and he should be expelled from the AAP.

Both the BJP and Delhi Congress also demanded that Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain should be sacked over corruption allegations.

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 legal action should also be taken against Gautam and he should 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's resignation does not mean that there has been any change in Kejriwal's ideology, but it is because Kejriwal fears losses in the Gujarat and Himachal elections. That is why he has taken the resignation from Gautam," he said. However, AAP sources said that the decision was Gautam's personal choice.

"The question is, when will Kejriwal take action against his corrupt ministers? When will he sack Manish Sisodia? There are serious allegations against several other MLAs too," said Anil Kumar, Delhi Congress President 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," the MLA from Seemapuri said on Sunday.

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 based on caste "impale his heart" and he will continue his fight for their rights.

The legislator also alleged that "some people who have a 'manuwadi' mentality" had also been threatening him, his family members and colleagues over social media and phone but added that he won't be intimidated.

''I will fight the battle for my community's rights with full honesty, power and strength. Even if I have to sacrifice myself for this battle to get the rights of my people in the society, I will not let this battle stop," he asserted.

Gautam earlier held the charge of the Women and Child Development department but was divested of that portfolio in March this year. The decision was taken amid an indefinite strike by Anganwadi helpers and workers over a host of issues, including regularisation of their services.

The portfolio was given to Transport and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot.

(With inputs from PTI)

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