New Delhi: The BJP expects its leader and Union minister M J Akbar to offer an explanation to the party’s top brass on the allegations of sexual harassment against him before it takes a call on his future, sources said.
A party leader said the allegations levelled against the Union minister of state for external affairs were serious but added that there were several aspects to it, including that there was no legal case against him. Several opposition parties have demanded Akbar’s resignation. The Congress has said he should either issue a satisfactory explanation or resign. Some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are of the view that the charges against Akbar would do no good to the party’s image in the run-up to crucial state Assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, more so when the party has gone on an overdrive to highlight the Narendra Modi government’s “pro-women credentials”.
Incidentally, the women’s wing of the saffron party will embark on a five-day relay marathon from Friday to publicise the pro-women schemes of the government. Several women have shared their stories of sexual harassment by Akbar when he was an editor of a newspaper on the social media, where the #MeToo movement is raging on for days. Akbar, who is on a trip abroad, has so far not offered any comment in public over the issue. Union ministers and BJP spokespersons have mostly declined to answer any query on Akbar.
However, Smriti Irani was the first Union minister to make more direct remarks on the #MeToo movement, hoping that the women speaking out got justice. To a question on Akbar, she said in Mumbai that it was for him to issue a statement. “The gentleman concerned would be in a better position to speak on the issue. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues, but I think it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement, not for me,” Irani said. She added that anybody speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked. “That is my only appeal to everybody who is witnessing this surge of outpouring of emotions of anger on the internet and offline also,” Irani said.