"Ambedkar's Vows Still Relevant...": AAP Ex Minister On Cops' Questions, Party's Silence

Rajendra Pal Gautam on lack of support from AAP and Arvind Kejriwal, "Silence is better than hasty statements in anger"

'Ambedkar's Vows Still Relevant...': AAP Ex Minister On Cops' Questions, Party's Silence

AAP's Rajendra Pal Gautam, who quit as minister earlier this week, at a Delhi police station on Oct 10.

New Delhi:

AAP leader Rajendra Pal Gautam, who had to resign from Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet after the BJP's protests over his alleged "anti-Hindu" oath at a Buddhist event, today said he told the cops he was merely reciting BR Ambedkar's 22 vows. "They asked me if the vows are relevant today, to which I said 'yes'," Mr Gautam told NDTV about his questioning on Tuesday by Delhi Police.

On lack of support from his party, which is also quiet on a BJP MP's alleged anti-Muslim speech in Delhi, Mr Gautam said, "The BJP wants that Arvind Kejriwal, who is doing politics of work, of electricity, water, education, health, should be stopped. The BJP is losing in Gujarat, so it is playing the Hindu card."

"My parents used to say that one silence can beat a hundred statements," he added about the AAP's silence, "One should wait for the right situation in politics. Statements given in anger or haste can give a push to the wrong people."

"The BJP is working to break the country, creating an atmosphere of hatred. They want to maintain untouchability, the spirit of high and low castes. I cannot allow such a party to progress at any cost," he added.

He said he told the cops, too, that the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal did not know about the event: "I went there in my personal capacity."

The police were "reporting my statements to the BJP, I am sure", claimed Mr Gautam, who belongs to the Dalit community for whose upliftment BR Ambedkar had suggested a move away from Brahminical Hinduism.

The BJP and its allied organisations on the Hindu Right held protests against Mr Gautam and the AAP after a video showed him and others taking an oath at the October 5 event where thousands converted to Buddhism. "I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, nor shall I worship them," they said, repeating one of 22 vows that BR Ambedkar took when he converted in 1956. The oath was administered by BR Ambedkar's great-grandnephew Rajratna Ambedkar.


Rajendra Pal Gautam was Delhi's Minister for Social Welfare. (File)

Mr Gautam said he was questioned for over three hours. "The investigating officer was talking about speaking with the DCP, but I know he must have gone to the BJP headquarters regarding my statements."

Police, who'd said it was a "normal inquiry" based on a complaint, have not shared what they asked him.

He added that he's sad to see "MPs and ministers of the central government giving hate speech, yet no case being registered against them". "I also feel sad that sometimes justice is not seen to have been done in the Supreme Court and High Court judgments," said Mr Gautam, a lawyer and two-time MLA.

The AAP has not formally responded to the BJP's allegations — even after Mr Gautam's resignation — though sources had told journalists that Mr Kejriwal was "extremely upset" with him.

The party has in the past few months been using BR Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh's portraits prominently in its campaigns, including in PM Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat where it hopes to unseat the BJP in elections this December.