Facing flak and criticism from the opposition and anger from inside the party, AAP leader and Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Sunday tendered his resignation.
Facing flak and criticism from the opposition and anger from inside the party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Sunday resigned after a controversy erupted over his participation in a public renouncing ceremony of the Hindu religion.
Sources said that AAP, who is trying hard to make inroads in Gujarat, was unhappy after a video of the Social Welfare, SC and ST department minister in the Delhi government renouncing the Hindu religion went viral on social media. According to the sources, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi and the party’s national convenor, was dissatisfied with him.
In his letter, which he also tweeted, Gautam said that he was upset as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was targetting his party chief, Arvind Kejriwal, since the video of his renouncing surfaced on social media.
Gautam also said he had recited 22 vows or oaths, which is a common affair that happens every year in many parts of the country. He said since he is a follower of Buddhism, he had participated in the event in his capacity. His party or his department had nothing to do with the event.
After the event, which was held on October 5 at Central Delhi’s Ambedkar Bhawan, the leaders of the BJP raised objections over the video in which Gautam and about 10,000 people were seen taking the oath of renouncing Hinduism. Adesh Gupta, Delhi BJP chief, had also filed a complaint against Gautam for hurting the sentiments of people from the Hindu community.
In his defence, Gautam earlier said that he had done nothing wrong as he is a believer in the Buddhist religion.
In the letter, Gautam said,”… On October 5, the event was held at Ambedkar Bhawan, Rani Jhansi Road. Being a member of society, I personally participated in the Buddhist Dhamma initiation ceremony organised by the Society of India on the occasion of Ashoka Vijayadashami, which had nothing to do with the Aam Aadmi Party and my council of ministers.
“A total of 22 pledges of Babasaheb were repeated by Babasaheb’s great-grandson, Raj Ratna Ambedkar, which I, along with more than 10,000 people, repeated. After that, I am seeing that the BJP is targeting our leader Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party. It is very sad for me.”
In the letter, Gautam further said that the 22 pledges given by Babasaheb, were also printed by the former Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Department, Thavar Chand Gehlot, in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, Vol-17. These pledges are repeated every year by crores of people at thousands of places organised in every nook and corner of the country.
“The BJP has objections to Baba Saheb and these 22 pledges given by him. The BJP is doing dirty politics and I am being hurt by it. I am giving up my ministerial post,” he said in his letter.
He further said he does not want his leader, Arvind Kejriwal, and his party to be troubled in any way because of him. “Being a soldier of the party, I would follow the path shown by Gautam Buddha and Baba Saheb for the right to our Constitution,” he stated.
“Some ‘Manuwadi’ mentality people are threatening me on social media and by phone to harm my family and my friends, but I am not afraid of them. I will fight for the rights of my society with the utmost courage and honesty. In this fight for the rights of society, even if I have to sacrifice my life, I will not let this fight stop,” Gautam wrote.