New Delhi: MJ Akbar, well-known editor turned politician, junior minister for external affairs, now outed as a serial sex pest and predator, is likely to be asked to resign so that the fire singeing the Modi government abates.
I had revealed this in a tweet Wednesday evening.
Akbar, who has been exposed by nearly a dozen credible women journalists, who worked with him in his earlier avatar as an editor, has seen history catch up with him. Akbar is likely to be the most high profile scalp of the #metoo movement raging across India.
Well-known journalists such as Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Saba Naqvi, and Suparna Sharma, have all documented the horrific experience they suffered at the hands of Akbar.
Authoritative government sources tell me that the optics of having an alleged serial sex predator represent India abroad is extremely damaging. They said Akbar will resign upon his return from Nigeria on Monday.
The writing is on the wall for Akbar as Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Welfare, called for an inquiry into the serious harassment charges against Akbar.
The Modi government is already looking bad as Akbar attracts international headlines and opprobrium. So far the Modi government has kept mum on the charges against the junior minister.
Modi in 2014 asked “voters to remember Nirbhaya (the victim of a barbaric gang rape) before they voted”. Modi also said from the ramparts of the Red Fort the onus should be on the boys, who misbehave and not on the girl.
One of the flagship schemes of the Modi government “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (Save our daughters, educate them) resembles a macabre joke as the storm around Akbar rages unabated while the government is silent.
The Modi government has always posed as a champion of women rights, trying to outlaw triple talaq. Now it is being asked to walk the empowerment talk. The Modi government basked in favourable headlines when two women Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister and Akbar’s boss, and Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister, made it to the high-powered Cabinet Committee on Security. Now both Swaraj and Sitharaman are dodging reporters and refusing to say a word on Akbar’s shenanigans.
Akbar has no base and is politically expendable, but if he quits, he will be the first-ever minister to resign from the Modi cabinet. Even rape and murder accused legislator, Kuldip Singh Sengar, has still not been expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But the Akbar firestorm threatens to dominate headlines and the government is braced for more victim accounts to surface. Akbar has been deemed “radioactive” in the words of a Cabinet minister. The Congress has also sought his resignation. The way it will unravel is that Akbar will offer to resign pending a probe and say he will work for the party till the charges are there.
A senior minister says: “Akbar’s career as a minister and a politician is now over. He will join history books as an exposed sex pest.”
The Modi government is currently also facing the ongoing Rafale scandal with Rahul Gandhi accusing Modi of being “personally corrupt” post the Dassault revelations that billionaire Anil Ambani was the key “non-negotiable” of the Rafale deal. This is the smoking gun that Gandhi needed and he held a press conference to attack Modi and accuse him of corruption.
With Rafale and Akbar dominating the headlines, the Modi government is fighting a losing perception battle.
While Akbar will be contained, the Rafale scandal is only gaining traction.
Swati Chaturvedi’s book “I am a Troll - Inside the BJP’s secret digital army” has received international acclaim. Her twitter handle is @Bainjal.