Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigned today, following vigorous protests by the BJP over his presence at a religious conversion event in Delhi on Friday.
After his resignation, Mr Gautam tweeted: “Today is the manifestation day of Maharishi Valmiki ji and on the other hand it is also the death anniversary of Manyavar Kanshi Ram Saheb. In such a coincidence, today I have been freed from many shackles and today I have been born again. Now I will continue to fight for rights and atrocities on the society more firmly without any restrictions.”
आज महर्षि वाल्मीकि जी का प्रकटोत्सव दिवस है एवं दूसरी ओर मान्यवर कांशीराम साहेब की पुण्यतिथि भी है। ऐसे संयोग में आज मैं कई बंधनों से मुक्त हुआ और आज मेरा नया जन्म हुआ है। अब मैं और अधिक मज़बूती से समाज पर होने वाले अत्याचारों व अधिकारों की लड़ाई को बिना किसी बंधन के जारी रखूँगा pic.twitter.com/buwnHYVgG8
— Rajendra Pal Gautam (@AdvRajendraPal) October 9, 2022
Mr Gautam’s resignation is significant in view of the fact that his presence at the religious conversion event had given the BJP an issue to attack the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which claims to be the main challenger to ruling BJP in Gujarat, where assembly elections are scheduled to be held later this year.
On Friday, Mr Gautam had issued a statement, accusing the BJP of spreading “rumours” against him and apologised to “anyone who has been hurt due to such propaganda”. He said: “I am a deeply religious person. I personally respect all the Gods and the Goddesses and would not even dream of insulting any deity through any action or word of mine.”
The minister added that he had raised the issues of education, health, employment, price rise and social equality in his speech at the event, but BJP leaders were spreading “rumours” against him.
The AAP minister had come under attack from the BJP and also spawned criticism for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after being accused of attending a religious conversion event where Hindu deities were denounced. At the event, hundreds took a pledge to convert to Buddhism.
Following the incident, the BJP had launched an attack on Mr Kejriwal, asking him to sack Mr Gautam.
AAP workers removed anti-AAP posters ahead of Mr Kejriwal’s rally in Gujarat’s Vadodara yesterday. The workers brought down all anti-AAP posters and banners put up on the party chief’s route to the rally venue. Protesting alleged “anti-Hindu” statements by Mr Gautam, supporters of the ruling BJP tore AAP banners ahead of yesterday’s ‘Tiranga Rally’ in Vadodara.
Countering the BJP’s charges and chanting “Jai Shri Ram” while addressing a party rally in Vadodara yesterday, Mr Kejriwal said: “Main Hanuman ka bhakt hun. Aur ye Kansa ki aulaad hain (I’m a disciple of Hanuman, while they are the descendants of Kansa.)
He added: “I was born on the day of Janmashtami. God has sent me with a special motive: Go destroy Kansa ki aulaad and the ones doing corruption.”