Union Minister MJ Akbar, who has been outed by nearly a dozen women as a sexual predator during his days as a newspaper editor, would not resign, reports NDTV citing sources.
The government has nothing to do with the accusations against him and his stepping down may set a bad precedent, sources said.
Mr Akbar, 67, was on an official tour in Nigeria when several women came out with detailed accounts of his alleged sexual misconduct as part of a thread on social media that has snowballed into a #MeToo movement in India.As he returned to Delhi this morning, he told reporters that “a statement will be given later”.
The women who have accused Mr Akbar of sexual harassment in the #MeToo campaign sweeping the nation are mostly journalists who worked with him or appeared for job interviews when he was editor.
The accusations started flowing in after journalist Priya Ramani tweeted on October 8 that Mr Akbar was the man who had harassed her in an incident she shared in an article for Vogue India a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US triggered the #MeToo movement.
The women who have spoken out against MJ Akbar, as part of the #MeToo movement include Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp.
The BJP has not commented on the charges, though individual ministers have supported the movement.
Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi has asked for an investigation against him. Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said “MJ Akbar should resign if the charges are proven”.
On Thursday, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani said, “Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked”. Asked about Mr Akbar, she said, “I think that it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement, not for me as I was not present there”.
Several political parties such as the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen have demanded Mr Akbar’s removal as minister.