Union Minister MJ Akbar, accused of sexual harassment by a dozen women in India's #MeToo movement, was back at work and attending meetings on Monday, a day after making it clear that he would contest the allegations rather than resign.
The Minister of State for External Affairs attended a meeting chaired by his boss, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, for the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas.
"Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections," said Mr Akbar, 67, in a statement he put out hours after returning from a foreign trip on Sunday morning to demands for his exit from the government over MeToo allegations.
He called the allegations false, fabricated, wild and baseless, and "spiced up by innuendo".
Alleging that the accusers had come out with the charges just a few months before the general election, Mr Akbar said: "Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy."
Mr Akbar, who has been editor of newspapers like The Telegraph and the Asian Age, has been accused of harassing women, especially interns and newcomers. The allegations began with journalist Priya Ramani's tweet on October 8 naming MJ Akbar as the man she had referred to in an incident she had shared in a magazine article a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US fuelled the #MeToo movement.
After Ms Ramani named him, more women posted their stories against MJ Akbar - Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp and Ruth David.
While the allegations have sparked outrage among journalists and activists, for political parties it seems to be business as usual.
The Congress's Fairoz Khan, who heads the party's student wing NSUI (National Students Union of India), also continues to go to work; the party says its internal committee is examining the charges against him.
In case of MJ Akbar, the Congress said he should "explain or quit". Its top leader, Rahul Gandhi, did not take his name while expressing his support for the movement.
Most political parties have been silent on Mr Akbar.
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