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All about AAP’s Rajendra Pal Gautam under fire at ‘conversion’ event

Delhi AAP MP Rajendra Pal Gautam, who resigned from the cabinet on Sunday due to a ‘controversial’ oath at a Buddhist event on October 5, only recited the 22 vows that BR Ambedkar made for the first time when he embraced Buddhism in 1956. Little did he know it would get him into trouble and shine a light on the Aam Aadmi party, which is campaigning for the upcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, led by the BJP.

Known for keeping a low profile otherwise, Gautam held departments of social welfare, social welfare SC/ST, registrar of cooperatives and gurudwara elections. But so far 2022 has not been kind to the AAP leader, who was stripped of his women’s and children’s development portfolio earlier in the year following large-scale protests by Anganwadi workers. .

A lawyer by profession and a social activist before entering politics, those who know Gautam said he was a Buddhist and an Ambedkarite. He was born in Ghonda, northeast Delhi, and joined the AAP in 2014. He fought the 2015 Assembly elections in Seemapuri and defeated the BJP candidate by more than 40,000 votes. He was re-elected in 2020 and remains the Seemapuri MP.

Not only that, his Ambedkarite credentials are gaining strength as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has appointed him in charge of the ambitious ‘Jai Bheem Mukhyamantri Pratiba Vikas Yojana’. The AAP has worked hard to project legendary Dalit leader Ambedkar as one of the party’s driving ideals alongside noted freedom fighter and atheist Bhagat Singh. So much so that Kejriwal even has a life-size portrait of Ambedkar inside his official residence and ensures that his picture hangs next to that of Bhagat Singh behind him whenever he records a political address.

The Government of Delhi’s ‘Jai Bheem’ program provides free coaching for IIT-JEE, NEET and other entrance examinations to SC/ST children. Currently, nearly 15,000 students are enrolled in the various courses offered under the program.

Gautam is armed with a law degree from the University of Delhi and has led non-governmental organizations working for disadvantaged families – from teaching children to tackling drug abuse and addiction. According to a report by The Indian Express, those who know the AAP leader said that Gautam joined the AAP impressed by “Kejriwal’s ideology”. Even now, he is the founder of an organization called “Mission Jai Bheem”, which collaborated with the Buddhist Society of India to organize the “deeksha” event on October 5 which sparked controversy and was billed as an “anti-Hindu” event by the opposition BJP.

The report states that Gautam received the Dr Ambedkar award from Samata Sainik Dal in 2017. “He joined AAP after being impressed by Kejriwal’s ideology in 2014 and fought against elections in 2015,” a member said. party.

On the day of the event, where 10,000 people embraced Buddhism and swore the 22 vows of Ambedkar, Gautam tweeted: “Today…more than 10,000 intellectuals have pledged to return the India free from caste and untouchability.”

But, on the day of his resignation, Gautam projected the image of a leader pained by the reactions to the event which merely confirmed Ambedkar’s wishes. He said he hadn’t hurt anyone and was under no pressure to resign from his own party.

He did, however, share his resignation letter on Twitter, saying he had been ‘released from many bonds’ and that it was his ‘rebirth’ day as it coincided with Valmiki Jayanti as well as the anniversary of his death. of the eminent Dalit leader Kanshi Ram. .

In the letter, he also stated that he attended the event in a personal capacity and had nothing to do with his party or the ministry. He blasted the BJP for targeting Kejriwal and the AAP, alleging that the saffron party was playing “dirty politics” on the issue. Gautam said he was resigning as minister because he didn’t want his leader or the AAP to get in trouble because of him.

“I don’t want my leader Shri Arvind Kejriwal or the party to get in trouble because of me. I am a true party soldier and will follow the ideals shown by Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Gautam Buddh throughout my life,” he said.

At the October 5 event, which was also attended by Babasaheb’s great-grandson, Rajratana Ambedkar, attendees repeated the 22 pledges (people take while embracing Buddhism) and Gautam also spoke them. The AAP leader defended himself by saying that millions of people repeat these 22 vows in thousands of places across India every year.

“The BJP is playing dirty politics on the issue which pained me and hence I resign from my ministerial post,” he said, adding that the BJP had objections to Ambedkar and his 22 vows, the first of which says “I will have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, nor will I worship them.” He said the BJP was distorting facts and using them as political ammunition against the AAP.

Gautam claimed that the 22 wishes of Ambedkar were even recognized by the central government led by Narendra Modi in 2017 and are printed and engraved in countless places. He thanked Kejriwal for his respect and support and commended his party for the work done in education, health, women and children development, social welfare, electricity and the water. He also said that incidents of violence against members of the Dalit community in recent years and caste-based discrimination “impale his heart”.

(With PTI inputs)

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