The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has given its first response on the #MeToo movement exposing cases of sexual harassment in workplaces. Dattatreya Hosabale, Sah Sarkaryavah or Joint General Secretary of the RSS, shared a post by Facebook executive Ankhi Das which said, "You needn't have a #MeToo moment to support the women journalists who have narrated their victimisation. You needn't even be a woman. You just need to have a sensibility of what is right and what is wrong."
Ms Das, who is Facebook's Public Policy Director for India, South Asia and Central Asia, had posted these words on her Facebook timeline. Mr Hosabale took a screenshot of the post and tweeted it today with his own comment, "I liked it. She has articulated what I was feeling".
As Sah-Sarkaryavah, Mr Hosabale is number three in the RSS hierarchy after Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah or general secretary Suresh "Bhayyaji" Joshi. There are five other Sah-Sarkaryavahs along with Mr Hosabale but he is known to be the most influential among them.
He is known to be particularly close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is a key interlocutor between the government and the Sangh.
Mr Hosabale's tweet in support of female journalists who have been harassed is significant at a time when the Narendra Modi government is under pressure to sack Union Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar. Several women journalists who worked with Mr Akbar when he was an editor, have accused him of sexual harassment.
If Mr Hosabale's tweet reflects the Sangh's position, it could indicate that the BJP's parent organisation might be in favour of Mr Akbar's removal as minister.
Almost around the same time as the Sangh leader's tweet, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani expressed her solidarity with the women who are speaking out and said, to questions on Mr Akbar, that "It is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement, not for me as I was not present there."
Another union minister Ramdas Athawale said, "We need to listen to MJ Akbar. He is out of India currently. There should be a probe and he should resign if he is found guilty".
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