Union Minister MJ Akbar should take a call on whether to resign after being accused of sex harassment by seven women in the tide of #MeToo allegations in India, government sources said today.
MJ Akbar, a former editor who is junior foreign minister in the BJP-led government, was away in Nigeria's Lagos for a Mahatma Gandhi event when the allegations surfaced against him. Officials say he is travelling to Equitorial Guinea and is likely to return only on Sunday.
Denying reports that Mr Akbar had been asked to cut short his trip, return immediately and resign, top sources said: "These are speculative stories."
Mr Akbar's version would be heard after he returned, they said.
"There is no FIR or formal complaint. These are moral issues and he should take a call," said sources.
The only minister to call for an inquiry was Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. "There should be an investigation. Men in 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," Maneka Gandhi told news channel India Today.
Journalist Priya Ramani was the first to call him out, by naming him as the man in an incident she had shared in a magazine article when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US led to an explosion of #MeToo allegations.
Soon more women journalists came out with their accounts.
The CPM, questioning the government's silence, asked: "How many more women need to speak up before the government breaks its silence on sexual harassment allegations against union minister MJ Akbar?"