MJ Akbar, Accused In MeToo, First Minister In PM Modi's Council To Resign

MJ Akbar was accused of sex harassment by 20 journalists as the #MeToo movement gained traction in the country after former actor Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar.

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MJ Akbar, Accused In MeToo, First Minister In PM Modi's Council To Resign

MJ Akbar is the first minister in the NDA government to resign


New Delhi: 

In his long career, Mobashar Jawed Akbar wore many hats. He was a pioneering editor, erudite author and a lawmaker who represented both the BJP and the Congress in parliament -- a rare feat for someone who is not a career-politician. This evening, the 67-year-old -- who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct during his days as an editor -- stepped down from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers. He is the first minister in the NDA government to resign.

In a statement, he said since he was seeking justice in a court in his personal capacity, "I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity". 

MJ Akbar was accused of sex harassment by 20 journalists as the #MeToo movement gained traction in the country after former actor Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar. 

Denying the allegations, Mr Akbar said, "Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy". He also filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani, the first woman journalist who called him out in the snowballing #MeToo movement. 

But the allegations kept coming and 20 women journalists said they were ready to testify against the editor-turned-politician in court.  

MJ Akbar was born in Telinipara, in Hooghly district of West Bengal and studied at the Presidency College in Kolkata before entering the world of journalism. In 1976, he became the editor of Sunday, a political news magazine published from Kolkata. Mr Akbar went on to found two daily newspapers: The Telegraph in 1982 and The Asian Age in 1994. 

He was eclectic author with a penchant for historic interpretation of events. His works -- The Siege Within; Nehru: The Making of India; Kashmir: Behind the Vale; The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity; Tinderbox: the Past and Future of Pakistan -- went for many reprints. 

After a little over two decades into journalism, Mr Akbar chose to go into electoral politics. In 1989, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kishanganj, Bihar, on a Congress ticket. He fell out with the Congress leadership after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and returned to media in 1993. 

March 2014 saw him back in politics -- this time with the BJP. Soon, Mr Akbar became BJP's national spokesperson.

He was elected as a lawmaker to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand in July 2015. In July 2016, he was elected for another term from Madhya Pradesh. Mr Akbar took charge as a junior foreign minister on June 6, 2016.



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