Female Journalists Not Innocent, at Fault Too: MP BJP’s Women Wing Chief Defends MJ Akbar
When asked if MJ Akbar should resign, Lata Kelkar said it wasn’t for her to say. But on being asked what if similar allegations were levelled against a Congress leader, she said she would have asked for resignation.
File photo of Minister of External Affairs MJ Akbar. (Image: Reuters)
Bhopal: While most female cabinet ministers have refused to comment on the sexual harassment allegations against their colleague MJ Akbar, the chief of BJP’s women wing for Madhya Pradesh sprung to his defence on Thursday and said that journalists who have accused him of misconduct were at fault too.
“Female journalists are not so innocent that they can be misused,” Lata Kelkar told reporters in Bhopal when asked about the MeToo charges against the minister of state for external affairs. “MJ Akbar was a journalist and all the accusers are also journalists. Both were at fault,” she added.
She welcomed the MeToo movement, saying that it has given women the courage to speak up against harassment, but added a disclaimer to that as well by saying “only now in their understanding has it become harassment,” suggesting it wasn’t at the time because they didn’t report.
When asked if Akbar should resign from his post, Kelkar said it wasn’t for her to say and can only be decided by him and the party high command. But on being asked what if similar allegations were levelled against a Congress leader, she said she would have asked for resignation.
When pressed if any action would be taken against the junior minister, Kelkar said an inquiry would be held now that such charges have been levelled against Akbar and further action would be taken only based on what is found in the probe.
Akbar, a former editor of several leading dailies, has been accused of sexual harassment by at least seven women journalists. 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 has now confirmed in a tweet that the allegation was against the minister.
Most of the accusers detailed a pattern in which he allegedly called them to his hotel rooms for job interviews or to discuss work and reportedly misbehaved with them there. Some alleged he made their life difficult after they rebuffed his advances.
Several opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, TDP and BJP’s own ally Shiv Sena, have asked for his resignation. Akbar, who is on an overseas trip that he has refused to cut short, has not yet responded to the allegations.
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