Another journalist accuses Akbar

Another journalist accuses Akbar

The #MeToo piled on the agony of Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar, as yet another woman journalist came out to accuse him of sexually harassing her.

Akbar continued his visit to Equatorial Guinea on Friday even as Majlie de Puy Kamp, a journalist now based in New York, accused him of sexually harassing her when she was 18 and he 56. The Huffington Post India quoted her saying that she was sexually harassed by Akbar in 2007, when he was the editor of daily newspaper and she was doing an internship in the office of the newspaper in New Delhi.

Majile joined at least seven other women journalists who this week came out to accuse Akbar of inappropriately behaving with them or sexually harassing them when he was leading media organizations they either wanted to work for or worked for.

The fate of the 67-year-old journalist-turned-politician is now hanging in balance as clamour for his resignation as the Minister of State for External Affairs grew lourder. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to take a call on his fate once he returns to New Delhi, possibly early Sunday.

Most of Akbar's colleagues in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Government refrained from defending him and left it to himself to respond to the allegations by women journalists.

“The matter is of the times when he was not a part of the Central government. So, it is a matter between M J Akbar and the women. The government can say nothing on this,” Uma Bharti, Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, said on Friday. Her comment came a day after another women in Prime Minister's cabinet, Textile Minister Smriti Irani, said that Akbar himself would be “better positioned” to speak “on the issue (the allegation about sexually harassing women journalists)”.

Rashmi Das, a former leader of BJP's student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, wrote in newsportal Firstpost on Friday arguing that the ruling party's silence on the allegation against the Minister of State for External Affairs went against the tenets of its mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Akbar had a long career in media before he started dabbling in politics. He was founding editor of a magazine and two newspapers. He later worked as the editorial director of another magazine and a TV channel. He also worked as editor of two other newspapers.

He joined the Congress in 1989 and got elected to the Lok Sabha from Kishanganj in Bihar. He returned to media in 1993. He joined the BJP in March 2014. He is now a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha.