Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam has resigned
Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam resigned on Sunday, following vigorous protests by the BJP over his presence at a religious conversion event in Delhi.
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."
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.
At the event, the AAP Minister, among a thousand others, was heard taking an oath, saying, "I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, nor shall I worship them".
Following the incident, the BJP had launched an attack on Mr Kejriwal, asking him to sack Mr Gautam. They also put up posters against him that were later removed by his supporters ahead of a rally in Gujarat's Vadodara yesterday.
Countering the BJP's charges and chanting "Jai Shri Ram" while addressing the rally, 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."