Woman journalists firm on their charges against MJ Akbar, Opposition questions PM Modi's silence
The woman journalists who have accused Union minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment have reiterated their stand in response to Akbar's claim that charges against him are "fabricated".
Hours after returning to India from his Africa tour on Sunday, Akbar issued a statement and termed all allegations against him as "fabricated and spiced up". Stating that he will take legal actions against the women journalists, he also questioned the timing of the charges and termed them is as a political conspiracy against the BJP ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Responding to the stand taken by the Modi government and the silence of women ministers like Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi, senior journalist Ghazala Wahab, who has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct, accused them of "treachery".
Questioning their silence on sexual harassment allegations against a Union minister by at least 11 women, she quoted a couplet: "Kahoon kis tarah se ke woh bewafa hai, Mujhe uski majbooriyon ka pata hai (How can I call out their treachery when I know their compulsions)," she wrote in a tweet.
And to d leading lights of woman power in d Cabinet @SushmaSwaraj @nsitharaman @Manekagandhibjp @smritiiraniGhazala Wahab (@ghazalawahab) October 14, 2018
Kahoon kis tarah se ke woh bewafa hai/ Mujhe uski majbooriyon ka pata hai (how can I call out their treachery when I know their compulsions) Khumar
Speaking to the Indian Express, journalist Suparna Sharma, who has also accused MJ Akbar said that she stand by her testimony. "I stand by my testimony of the two incidents - one in which he plucked my bra strap, and the other when he stared at my breasts. I also stand by the fact that he did the same with other women in the office. I am disappointed with Akbar's response but I am not surprised. This is going to be a longish battle, and the next step in many cases is a legal step," the newspaper quoted her.
The newspaper also reached out to US-based journalist Majlie de Puy Kamp who too has accused Akbar of sexual harassment. Responding to Akbar's charge that the allegations against him are politically motivated, Kamp said she isn't an Indian citizens and can't vote. "I do not have a political agenda...I have evidence. I am disappointed but not surprised by his statement. I am, however, very comfortable with my story," she reportedly said.
Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Jai Hind also attacked MJ Akbar and said his behavior was "notorious" and "lecherous".
She asked if all women are making false allegations against Akbar. "They are after your seat in Parliament? What a moron MJ Akbar is! If anyone is impacting BJP adversely today, it is MJ Akbar for his notoriety and lecherous behavior," she said.
The DCW chief also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the entire controversy. She said PM Modi's "silence" and "inaction" is "unbelievable".
Meanwhile, the Congress has also upped the ante against the Modi government and has reiterated its demand for Akbar's resignation over the allegations of sexual harassment.
Former Union ministers and senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Salman Kurshid said the prime minister ought to speak about these serious allegations against his minister.
"It is a question of women's dignity, security and safety. There is a difference in his saying and doing. Where is his 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' campaign going now? It is the duty of the prime minister, his constitutional duty and moral duty, to speak. Why has the PM chosen to be silent is the fundamental question. Tell the country what your views are," Sharma told reporters on Sunday.
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The Aam Aadmi Party said it is not surprised that Akbar has not resigned despite the charges of sexual misconduct.
"There are many who are surprised by Union minister MJ Akbar not offering to resign. However, the Aam Aadmi Party expected the same from a BJP government minister. He comes from a party where another Union minister remained a minister despite of being accused of rape. He comes from a party where Kuldeep Singh Sengar is still part of BJP despite raping a young girl and getting her father killed," the party said.
It added that the AAP "believes that this is purely Modi brand of politics, where all accusations are judged and rejected by the accused itself".
Taking a jibe at MJ Akbar and his claim that the allegations against him are politically motivated, Nationalist Congress Party leader Majid Memon said, "If any set of women or any group against BJP had to politically hatch a conspiracy to bring disrepute to BJP or embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would have chosen a much better minister than this man who never contested election."
Juhi Singh, of the Samajwadi Party said, "I think the BJP has nothing to with development and women empowerment. No party leader is speaking against the minister and this shows what kind of politics they are doing."
On the other hand, press associations have said they will be coming out with strong responses to the developments on Sunday. The associations are likely to stage protest against Akbar and the BJP to express solidarity with the woman journalists who have levelled the allegations.
(With inputs from PTI)