With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, the demands of the resignation of MJ Akbar, a former journalist and now the Minister of State for External Affairs in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, have been increasing after several women accused him of sexual harassment when he was a newspaper editor.
The Opposition Congress was among the first to demand Akbar’s resignation over the charges of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour, which came in an election season.
Sources said that the issue was also discussed during the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. The BJP government was in no mood to take chances and would like to stand at higher moral grounds by asking the minister to step down.
Akbar, who is currently on a foreign tour, may be asked to tender his resignation once he comes back, the sources said.
However, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj chose to stay mum when asked about the charges on her junior minister. When a reporter asked Swaraj that whether there will be an internal probe against the minister facing serious charges, the External Affairs Minister, a woman herself, didn’t utter a single word either to condemn or to defend the minister.
Reacting to Swaraj’s silent ‘defence’ of Akbar, the Opposition Congress said that it was not surprised by her reaction as shielding sexual predators was in the DNA of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). So far, the minister has neither denied nor accepted the charges against him.
Akbar is the first politician who was named in India’s #MeToo movement that is gathering momentum on social media after Union Minister Maneka Gandhi’s call for it. So far, the list of the men accused of sexual harassment largely consists people from the media, film and entertainment industry.