Protesting alleged “anti-Hindu” statements by an Aam Aadmi Party leader in Delhi, supporters of the ruling BJP in Gujarat’s Vadodara today tore the AAP’s banners ahead of a rally by party boss Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
The protest and vandalism took place just before 4pm, when the AAP was scheduled to hold its ‘Tiranga Yatra’ led by Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal as part of its campaign in PM Narendra Modi’s home state, which has elections due in December.
ये गुंडागर्दी गुजरात में भाजपा की हार की बौखलाहट दर्शा रही है।#GujaratWithAAPpic.twitter.com/wBfyqVaP8S
— Durgesh Pathak (@ipathak25) October 8, 2022
Senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak tweeted: “This hooliganism shows the BJP’s fear of defeat in Gujarat.”
The protesters pointed towards Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam’s oath at a mass conversion event to Buddhism in Delhi, where he was among thousands who recited BR Ambedkar’s 22 vows that include denouncing Hindu Gods and Brahminical traditions. Viral video clips showed one of these being repeated by the gathering: “I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, nor shall I worship them.”
Mr Gautam has refused to back down, citing freedom of religion and saying he only repeated vows taken by the legendary Dalit leader, who had converted to Buddhism at such an event in 1956. The vows include a pledge for equality and no faith in incarnations of God.
Protesters in Vadodara — some of who said they are “ordinary, proud Hindus” and “not with the BJP” — saw the event as an affront to Hinduism. “That AAP minister (Rajendra Pal Gautam) made thousands of Hindus change their religion,” a woman who tore AAP posters alleged.
The event was organised by Jai Bheem Mission, founded by Mr Gautam, where nearly 7,000 people, mostly Dalits, embraced Buddhism. It was attended by a great-grandnephew of BR Ambedkar, Rajratna Ambedkar.
BJP has filed police police complaints and shared the event’s video on Twitter, accusing the AAP minister of “spewing venom against Hindus”.