AAP Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam Resigns After Dalit-Buddhist Conversion Row

This comes after BJP submitted a complaint against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) minister Rajendra Pal Gautam.

2 min read

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and minister in Delhi government, Rajendra Pal Gautam, resigned on Sunday, 9 October over an event — Buddha Dhamma Deeksha Samaroh — in which he participated, where hundreds of Dalits from across Delhi-NCR converted to Buddhism.

This comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted Gautam and submitted a complaint against him on Friday, 7 October, for participating in the event.

"We've filed a complaint against Delhi's Minister of Social Welfare (Rajendra Pal Gautam) at the Parliament Street police station. The AAP government must sack him for his attempt to stoke communal tensions and spread hatred along religious lines within the country," said Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta.

What Happened at The Event?

On 5 October, hundreds of Dalits converted to Buddhism as a part of the Buddha Dhamma Deeksha Samaroh organised by the Buddhist Society of India and Mission Jai Bheem.

The ceremony was attended by Rajratna Ambedkar, great grand-nephew of Ambedkar, and President of the Buddhist Society of India. AAP's Gautam, who is the founder of Mission Jai Bheem, was also in attendance.

"For centuries the caste system has limited our opportunities. Now we do not need reservation only in jobs, we need our share in land resources and the right to live with dignity," Gautam had said at the event.

The Quint had attended the 5 October event and spoke to multiple people who had come to participate in the ceremony. Many cited generational trauma, atrocities and crime against women as tipping points for wanting to convert.

Nisha, a 38-year-old homemaker from Ghaziabad, had come for the conversion ceremony with her husband and three children. "I saw that children from my community were made to sit on the floor while other children sat on chairs in our society. I don't want my children to face this," she said.

For 17-year-old Dinesh, on the other hand, embracing Buddhism was a "matter of pride". "To embrace Buddhism in itself is a matter of pride. There is no unity among people in other religions. They discriminate on the basis of caste – something which is against the spirit of our Constitution," he said.

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