Amid ongoing demand for the resignation of Union Minister MJ Akbar after more than six women journalists accused him of sexually harassing, Union Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday said that the gentlemen concerned would be in a better positioned to speak on this issue.
As the MeToo campaign gathered momentum in India, some women journalists have come out and accused Akbar, a former editor and now the minister of state for external affairs, of sexually harassing them during his stint as a journalist. Akbar was an editor of many publications before he took to politics.
The opposition party also hit out at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for not responding to a question on action against her junior minister after allegations were levelled against him, terming it “extremely unfortunate”.
According to reports, MJ Akbar can be asked to quit the ministry and work for the party, instead.
Akbar, a senior journalist, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of 2014 general elections and was elected to the Rajya Sabha a year later. He was made the Minister of State for External Affairs in 2016.
In October last year, when the #MeToo campaign peaked in Hollywood, journalist Priya Ramani had written an article for Vogue India, titled, “To the Harvey Weinstein of the world” and narrated her ordeal about the gut-wrenching incident of sexual misconduct she faced during a job interview with a renowned journalist who had “transformed Indian journalism”.
Ramani, recently on Twitter, claimed that the journalist she was referring to was MJ Akbar.
Another journalist, Shutapa Paul, recalling a 2011 incident, tweeted on Wednesday, “As I tried to dash out the door, #MJAkbar gave me a hard hug, I ducked whatever else could have followed and fled. He seemed amused at my ducking.”