Union Minister MJ Akbar returns on Sunday, is mum about sexual accusations, says statement later

MJ Akbar mum

While BJP has maintained silence on the issue, many in the party believe charges against him are serious

The Hush Post: Union Minister of State for external affairs M J Akbar is back. Akbar returned on Sunday. However, he remained mum for now. He has been embroiled in sexual harassment allegations by several women who worked under him.

“There will be a statement later on,” Akbar, who hardly looked his old self, told reporters. This was his first remarks on the controversy as he made his way out of the Delhi airport.

Akbar, the Minister of State for External Affairs, was on an official trip to Nigeria. It was then that his name emerged in the #MeToo campaign earlier last week. Multiple women, mostly journalists, have claimed they were sexually harassed by Akbar during his stint as editor. Opposition parties, including the Congress, have called for Akbar’s resignation.

While the Bharatiya Janta Party has maintained a deafening silence on the issue so far, many in the party believe that the charges against him are too serious. The final call on Akbar’s future will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they reportedly said. “As of now, it depends on what stand he takes after the allegations and the pressure on the government over his resignation. Both the party and the government are watching it closely,” said a union minister who did not wish to be named.

Gazala Wahab, Priya Ramani, Prerna Bindra, Saba Naqvi and many other women journalists have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct

Earlier, BJP leader Smriti Irani said it was for Akbar to respond to the charges.

“Do not judge those who are speaking out right now. They are mothers, daughters and wives. They are taking a big risk and it must be very difficult for them to speak out,” Irani said at a FICCI event in Mumbai.

Asked about the allegations against Akbar, she said, “It is for the gentleman in question to issue a statement. It would not be proper for me to comment because I wasn’t present.”

Akbar is first among political leaders among several individuals, including celebrity marketing consultant Suhel Seth, who stand accused of sexual harassment by women who are part of the #MeToo movement that is making headlines across Indian media, films and entertainment world.

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