MJ Akbar resigns as MoS External Affairs: MJ Akbar's resignation comes days after multiple women journalists accused him of sexually harassing them while he was the Editor of a newspaper.
MJ Akbar resigns as MoS External Affairs: Journalist turned politician MJ Akbar has resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs. The resignation comes days after multiple women journalists accused Akbar of sexually harassing them while he was the Editor of a newspaper. The government maintained silence on the issue despite the charges. The minister was in Nigeria for an event on Mahatma Gandhi and had returned on Sunday morning.
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge the false accusations levied against me, also in personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State For External Affairs,” Akbar said in a written statement shared by news agency ANI.
“I am deeply grateful to the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and to the External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country,” read the letter.
It all began when journalist Priya Ramani and a number of senior woman journalists came out and narrated detailed accounts of alleged sexual harassment they faced from the former minister. While speculation over his continuance in the government gathered momentum, Akbar sued Ramani for criminal defamation over the charges she had levelled against him. Asserting that the charges were levelled against him with the intent to “wilfully, deliberately and maliciously” defame him. The matter is listed for hearing on October 18 at the Patiala House court in Delhi.
In the meantime, 19 other female journalists have come out in support of the women who have levelled serious charges against Akbar when he was an Editor.
Reacting to the development, Ramani said resignations establishes vindication of women journalists’ allegations against MJ Akbar. “As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation. I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court #metoo,” Ramani said in a Tweet.
MJ Akbar: Distinguished journalist-editor turned politician
Born in January 1951 in West Bengal, Akbar completed his education from Presidency College where he did BA (Hons) in English. After graduating from Presidency, Akbar began his career with The Times of India in 1971.
After two years, he moved to The Times-owned magazine The Illustrated Weekly of India as a sub-editor. He left the weekly in 1973. Later in the same year, Akbar joined fortnightly news Onlooker as the Editor. In 1976, Akbar joined the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group as the Editor of a political weekly Sunday.
MJ Akbar’s statement
In his journalistic career, Akbar edited several English daily and magazines. Akbar launched two daily newspapers: The Telegraph and The Asian Age. Akbar was the Editor at The Telegraph from 1982 to 1989.
After spending nearly 18 years in journalism, Akbar took plunge in politics and joined the Congress in 1989. However, Akbar did not continue in politics for long and returned to Journalism in 1993.
After coming back to journalism, Akbar launched The Asian Age in 1994 where he served as Editor-in-Chief till 2008. In 2010, Akbar launched a weekly newspaper The Sunday Guardian and served here as Editor-in-Chief before joining politics full time in 2014. He was also the Editorial Director of India Today from 2010 to 2012.
In 2014, Akbar joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and became the party’s national spokesperson. A year later, he was elected as Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand. On July 6, 2016, Akbar became the Minister of State for External Affairs.
Akbar is a prolific writer who has authored several internationally acclaimed books. His books are mainly on history, faith and definitions of nationalism.
Some of them are India: The Siege Within; Nehru:The Making of India; Kashmir: Behind the Vale; The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity. He has also written a novel, Blood Brothers.