MJ Akbar must resign if he can’t explain sexual harassment charges when he was editor, says Congress’ Jaipal Reddy:- As the MeToo fire rages on, charring reputations as more women narrate their experiences of unsolicited sexual behavior with Union minister MJ Akbar and actor Alok Nath among those named for their alleged actions, Congress demanded the resignation of the junior minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs. What could add to the turmoil for the minister, Akbar faces accusations from more than one woman as his once illustrious career as a journalist now nearly stand on the verge of demolition.
Congress leader and former Union minister Jaipal Reddy, at a press conference, said, “MJ Akbar has his own stature of being a veteran journalist in addition to being the junior minister with the External Affairs Ministry. Sushma Swaraj could not comment on her own subordinate. Akbar should either come out with a satisfactory explanation or he must resign from his post in the government. We demand an inquiry into these allegations. If Justice Brett Kavanaugh can be asked for an explanation then why not MJ Akbar who allegedly did whatever he did much later in his life than Kavanaugh.”
While women from across the media have flooded social media with harrowing stories of their encounter, politicians, Union ministers, and leaders of ruling parties had maintained a stoic silence, except Maneka Gandhi. Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka, is the only BJP leader who, so far, has openly reacted to the stream of survivors’ accounts, naming prominent personalities, pouring out on social media.
Though the minister did not explicitly react to allegations against Akbar, she did assert that the survivors’ voice should not be questioned and a probe should be carried out in such cases. Maneka spoke to India Today after the accusations against Akbar, and others, made headlines: “There should be an investigation. Those who are in positions of power always use it, whether it is film, media or industry.
Whenever women make such allegations, we should take them very seriously,” she said. “Women are scared of speaking out thinking people will make fun of them or question their character. Now that women are speaking up we should take action on each and every allegation,” she added while responding to questions specifically about a “big politician” named in multiple survivors’ accounts. Women began to share their encounters with Akbar after journalist Priya Ramani re-plugged her article in Vogue from October 2017.
Written after a string of women accused Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, Priya wrote about her experience with Akbar but did not name him. In the Vogue article, Ramani said that Akbar had invited her to a hotel room in Mumbai for an interview and made uncomfortable advances towards her. She was 23 years old, while he was 43. “I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator — maybe they’ll share.”