Union Minister M J Akbar resigns over #MeToo

Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

A group of women journalists has written to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the dismissal of Union Minister M.J. Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a dozen-odd women.

Union Minister MJ Akbar, who is handling the portfolio of Ministry of external affairs, resigned today.

"The allegations against him should be properly investigated", Mr Athawale said.

Following MJ Akbar's complaint of defamation against Priya Ramani, twenty women who worked with MJ Akbar during his career as a journalist have asked the court to consider their testimonies of being subject to MJ Akbar's sexual harassment and misconduct, or as a witness to the same. "The party can not afford to lose the perception battle when women are facing harassment", said a senior BJP leader.

Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst at Jain University in the city of Bengaluru, said Akbar's defamation lawsuit and his subsequent resignation could indicate damage limitation by the government. He said he was "deeply grateful" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior Minister Sushma Swaraj for "the opportunity they gave me to serve the country". On Tuesday, the news website Scroll published a new accusation of harassment from journalist Tushita Patel, who prefaced her allegations by saying that she felt compelled to speak out because of Akbar's brazen denial.

The opposition Congress had also been relatively muted in its criticism of the government over the allegations against Mr Akbar.

Ms Ramani has said that she is "ready" to fight the case against her.

MJ Akbar filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani after #MeToo allegations.

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One of India's most influential editors, he has edited leading English-language newspapers in India, such as The Telegraph and The Asian Age.

The BJP has tried to fashion itself as a champion of Indian women, arguing that policies to improve sanitation and switch to more efficient cooking fuels have disproportionately benefited them.

Mr Akbar was a prominent editor who founded several publications including the Asian Age.

Akbar was in Nigeria on government business when the first allegations emerged and was rumoured to be planning to resign when he returned on Sunday. "He pursued nearly all women in the same way", Sharma had said, "meetings in hotels, dangling plum assignments at them, sending them out of town, and then arranging to meet them in a hotel, or insisting that they take a auto ride with him".

There are 48 members of parliament across India with cases registered against them relating to crimes against women, a quarter of them members of the BJP, according to statistics from the Association for Democratic Reforms thinktank.

On Oct. 8, Ramani named Akbar as the man she had described, but not identified, in a 2017 Vogue article titled, "To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, an open letter", referring to the high-powered Hollywood film produced facing charges of rape and assault from multiple women in the United States.

The future course of action would be decided after the ACMM takes call on the recording of statement of Akbar, a condition precedent for issuing summon to an accused, Kapur said.

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