After Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman Dodges Questions Over Sexual Harassment Allegations Against MJ Akbar

New Delhi :– Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman followed the footsteps of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday and dodged questions on sexual harassment allegations against Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs MJ Akbar who is among the latest to face the flak by some women journalists in connection with the #MeToo campaign.
In an interview to a media channel on Wednesday, Sitharaman when questioned over sexual harassment allegations against Akbar, said that she was not the right person to comment on the matter.
Furthermore, she stood in the support of the women who are mustering all their courage and speaking up against the harassment they have faced.
Earlier on Tuesday, MEA Sushma Swaraj had dodged questions on sexual harassment allegations against her ministry colleague MJ Akbar. In a video shot by a journalist, Swaraj was seen evading questions related to allegations on Akbar, asked by some women scribes.
“There are serious allegations…these are sexual harassment allegations. You are a woman minister in charge. Will there be a probe on the allegations?” journalists can be heard asking in the video. Swaraj, however, walked away without answering.
Akbar was a journalist, running a newspaper as its editor for years, before turning to politics. As many as six women journalists have called out Akbar, alleging sexual harassment at his hands.
He was first called out by journalist Priya Ramani, who had last year written about his alleged inappropriate behaviour for a magazine without taking his name. She confirmed this week that the allegation was against Akbar. MJ Akbar has not yet responded to the allegations.
Congress Demands MJ Akbar’s Resignation
The Congress, earlier in the day, demanded an inquiry over the sexual allegation charges levelled against MJ Akbar. Senior party leader Jaipal Reddy said, “Union Minister MJ Akbar should either give a satisfactory answer to the allegations or he should resign. We demand an inquiry into the matter.”
On the other hand, party spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, “It is an extremely serious matter and the minister concerned needs to speak up. Silence cannot be a way out. This matter should be investigated. We would like to hear from both the minister in question and the Prime Minister on this issue.”
AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi Asks PM Modi to Sack MJ Akbar
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, while demanding the removal of MJ Akbar from the Union Cabinet, said, “Three journalists have shown to the world the real face of the cabinet minister who heads MEA & those details are horrific. I demand that PM should immediately sack this minister. We’ll wait and see if PM walks the talk.”
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Three journalists have shown to the world the real face of the cabinet minister who heads MEA & those details are horrific. I demand that PM should immediately sack this minister. We’ll wait and see if PM walks the talk: AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi #MJAkbar
“@mjakbar shame on you and you stood in parliament during T Talaaq Bill & spoke about Muslim women empowerment & to stop their exploitation..,” he tweeted. “@PMOIndia sack this Minister of yours if you truly believe in Beti Bachao,” he posted on Twitter.
While the BJP, per se, has maintained silence over the issue, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi spoke out and said,”There should be an investigation. Men in a position of power often do this. This applies to media, politics and seniors working in companies. Now that women have started speaking out, we should take it seriously.”