Around 10 thousand people on Wednesday gathered at Ambedkar Bhavan in Delhi and took part in an initiation to convert to Buddhism on October 5, the occasion of Dussehra, when Ashok Vijayadashmi is also celebrated.
The program was organized by AAP’s Rajendra Pal Gautam, Minister of Social Welfare in Delhi, Bhartiya Boddh Mahasabha and Buddhist Society of India. It was attended by many Buddhist monks along with Rajratna Ambedkar, great-grandnephew of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and President of Buddhist Society of India, as per The Mooknayak.
Gautam, who is the founder of Mission Jai Bhim, shared photos of the event on Twitter, writing, “Let’s call the mission Jai Bhim towards Buddha. Today, under the aegis of “Mission Jai Bhim", on Ashoka Vijayadashami, more than 10,000 intellectuals took a pledge to make a caste-free and untouchable India by returning home to Tathagata Gautam Buddha’s Dhamma at Dr. Ambedkar Bhawan Rani Jhansi Road. Namo Buddha, Jai Bhim!"
चलो बुद्ध की ओर मिशन जय भीम बुलाता है।आज “मिशन जय भीम" के तत्वाधान में अशोका विजयदशमी पर डॉ०अंबेडकर भवन रानी झांसी रोड पर 10,000 से ज्यादा बुद्धिजीवियों ने तथागत गौतम बुद्ध के धम्म में घर वापसी कर जाति विहीन व छुआछूत मुक्त भारत बनाने की शपथ ली।
नमो बुद्धाय, जय भीम! pic.twitter.com/sKtxzVRYJt
— Rajendra Pal Gautam (@AdvRajendraPal) October 5, 2022
Videos of the event and the initiation started doing the rounds on social media and one clip, where people were asked to vow not to worship Hindu gods and goddesses, nor to follow Hindu rituals, courted controversy.
BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana, sharing the clip, alleged that this showed the duplicity of the AAP party, as they pray to them during elections. “This is the duplicity of @AamAadmiParty. In the state where elections are held there
@ArvindKejriwal and his henchmen do not tire of saying Jai Shri Ram and Jai Shri Krishna. But where they are in power, how their ministers (listen yourself) insult our favored deities," he said in a tweet, adding that they would be filing a police complaint regarding this.
यह है @AamAadmiParty का दोगलापन ।जिस राज्य में चुनाव होते है वहाँ @ArvindKejriwal और उनके गुर्गे,जय श्री राम और जय श्री कृष्ण कहते थकते नहीं।लेकिन जहाँ सत्ता में होते है वहाँ उनके मंत्री (ख़ुद सुनिए) कैसे हमारे इष्ट देवताओं का अपमान करते है।
— Harish Khurana (@HarishKhuranna) October 7, 2022
Delhi BJP President Adesh Gupta termed the AAP party as ‘Hindu virodhi’ and asked their leaders not to pretend by going to Hindu temples. So far no official complaint has been filed or received by Delhi police in this matter.
Gupta also demanded dismissal of AAP leader Rajendra Pal Gautam in BJP’s media brief. “He’s a minister of Arvind Kejriwal’s party and he is making a religious proclamation in a crowd of 10,000 people," he said, questioning AAP’s secularism.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said, “This is an insult to Hinduism and Buddhism. AAP ministers are attempting to incite riots. The minister should immediately be removed from the party. We’re submitting a complaint against him."
Responding to allegations, Gautam told CNN-News18, “this event was organised by Bhartiya Boddh Samaj. It has nothing to do with politics. As a minister, I respect all religions but follow Buddhism. “We are taking the same 22 oaths taken by Babasaheb."
Gautam was referring to the oaths taken by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar when he accepted Buddhism along with six lakh followers at Deeksha Bhoomi, Nagpur in 1956. The day is celebrated as Ashok Vijayadashami among followers.
“BJP is anti-national. I’ve faith in Buddhism, why does anyone have trouble with it? Let them complain. Constitution gives us the freedom to follow any religion. BJP is afraid of AAP. They can only lodge fake cases against us," he added.