Rajendra Pal
Gautam, Delhi’s Minister for Social Welfare and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader,
resigned from his ministerial post on Sunday following controversy over his
presence at a religious conversion event held in Delhi on Friday. The event saw
hundreds take a pledge to convert to Buddhism and not regard Hindu deities as
gods. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party at the Centre, alleged
that Hindu deities were denounced at the event.

Gautam, 54, has been
a member of the Delhi legislative assembly since 2015. On Sunday, the Seemapuri
MLA, 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 of 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,” he wrote in Hindi, sharing his resignation letter. In the
letter, Gautam announced that he had resigned and accused the BJP of spreading
rumours against him. “I do not want my leader Shri Arvind Kejriwal or the party
to be in any trouble because of me. I am a true soldier of the party and I will
follow the ideals shown by Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Gautam Buddh throughout my
entire life,” the resignation letter read.

After reports of
the conversion event emerged on the internet, the BJP called on AAP supremo
Arvind Kejriwal to sack Gautam. Kejriwal was in Gujarat on Saturday and
battling accusations of being anti-Hindu, he stood on the pulpit and chanted ‘Jai
Shree Ram’ (Praise Lord Ram). The phrase has often been associated with the BJP,
especially since the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement of the 1990s.

“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,” Kejriwal said at the rally. Janmashtami
is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna.