Bhartiya Janata Praty ally Shiv Sena Wednesday demanded the resignation of MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar over the charges of sexual harassment. Sena demanded that Akbar, a former journalist, should resign and face the inquiry. “This should be taken very seriously…. such allegations are very serious,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said. “If BJP believes in transparency then there should be an investigation… I think he should resign and face the enquiry and after the enquiry, the party can take up a call,” she added.
Kayande’s statement comes hours after Union Minister Smriti Irani’s statement on the controversy, the first one from the Narendra Modi cabinet. Irani said that women go to work to realise their dreams and shouldn’t be pawed. “Anybody who is speaking out should not be shamed, victimised or mocked… women don’t go to work to be pawed, they work to realise their dreams,” she said.
“Am hopeful that ladies who are speaking out get due justice. It is for the gentleman concerned (MJ Akbar) to issue a statement,” Irani added.
Under the recently started #MeToo campaign in India, Akbar, who had been a top journalist in the country rose to the ranks of a minister in the union government, was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by as many as six women journalists. First such accusation came up from journalist Priya Ramani, formerly of India Today, The Indian Express and Mint. Ramani, in her piece written in October 2017 for Vogue India, had narrated her experience “with an editor” when she was 23 years old and he was 43.
On Monday, she went on to reveal Akbar’s name along with the link of the story and revealed. “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,” she said.
Since then, as many as six women journalists have accused Akbar of inappropriate behaviour. Akbar, who is reportedly out of the country, is yet to react to the allegations. Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra were seen refraining from commenting on the controversy.