PTI Photo by Kamal Singh
PTI Photo by Kamal Singh

He was once the editor-in-chief of The Asian Age newspaper. Known for his journalistic skills and intellectuality, MJ Akbar soon gained popularity in the field of journalism. He wrote two well-regarded political books including his intellectuality his political journey began.

During his lengthy career as a journalist, he launched India’s first weekly political news magazine, Sunday, in 1976, and two daily newspapers. He has also written several books, both non-fiction and fiction. Akbar married Mallika Joseph in 1975, and the couple has two children together. Born in 1951 in Telinipara, West Bengal, Mobashar Jawed “MJ” Akbar, was soon elected as a Member of Parliament between 1989 and 1991 and later returned to public life in March 2014, when he joined the BJP and was appointed national spokesperson during the 2014 general elections.

But all his success came down falling like a pack of cards when MeToo hit India. At least 20 women wrote their experiences of alleged sexual harassment at the hands of Akbar during his days as editor of several newspapers. Now the latest, a US-based, India-born woman journalist, Pallavi Gogoi, has accused MJ Akbar of raping her years ago when he was one of India’s leading editors.

Senior journalist Priya Ramani tweeted that an article she wrote for Vogue India a year ago had been about Akbar, though she had not named him at the time. In the piece, she recounted what she called her first experience of workplace harassment, describing him as a “predator”. Even before court hearings unfortunately for Akbar, he has already been declared guilty in the court of public opinion.

Akbar, however, has denied the allegations. He was in Africa when the allegations surfaced against him. A day after he returned to India, he filed the complaint against Ramani. He defended himself by saying, “The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad.” he said.

Stating that these allegations have caused irreparable damage to his reputation, the BJP Rajya Sabha MP said, “Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action.”

Akbar also questioned the timing of the allegations and asked why the #MeToo storm has risen a few months before the 2019 general elections and wondered if there was an agenda behind it. After the mounting pressure on him and the Modi government, MJ Akbar finally resigned. Akbar’s resignation is perhaps the first resignation from the Modi cabinet due to the increasing pressure on social media in favour of the women journalists who levelled charges of sexual harassment against him.

Akbar decided to quit a day before hearing of a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Priya Ramani, a journalist who has accused him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago.

But why has Akbar resigned? Weren’t we told that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party are “solidly” behind him? Why did he resign if he knows that the allegations against him are false? Only he will know the actual reason behind his resignation, but it looks like the Modi government wanted to save themselves from the MeToo storm ahead of the 2019 elections.

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