STEMMING THE TIDE: Modi government unlikely to seek resignation of MJ Akbar; feels this would set wrong precedent; sees game-plan in the exposes against minister

Modi government suspects there is a game-plan by some women and others to fix Akbar; will not allow taking things too far. Woman empowerment is not the only issue; checking irresponsible activism with ulterior motives is also important…

NEW DELHI: In a well-thought-out attempt to stop taking things too far or to dangerous levels, the Narendra Modi government is veering round to the view that minister of state for external affairs, MJ Akbar, would continue in the ministry, despite a flurry of allegations by some women in the media that he sexually made attempts at them in incidents at one time or other, over the past two decades.

Akbar, caught in a difficult situation following the #MeToo exposes by women who had worked with him in media establishments he was Editor in the past, returned here from his official tour of Nigeria this morning, and rejected the allegations as “baseless” and motivated. He said he would take legal action against those who attempted to tarnish his reputations.

The BJP initially thought it necessary to ask for the exit of the minister from government. Then, realisation dawned that such an action would be counter-productive. The women engaged in the campaign against Akbar, it is surmised, might be prompted to do so by some vested interests to tarnish the image of the Modi government just before the next Lok Sabha polls, as part of a grand strategy.

Moreover, Modi and the government appeared to have sensed danger if a minister was allowed to resign. It could set a precedent and a whole lot of women would be coming up in future to demolish the reputation of men in positions and derive some vicarious pleasure. This would serve the society no good.

The RSS leadership too seemed to back this line of thinking against the “MeToo exposes.

The government collected background information regarding the allegations and this strengthened the feeling that this was not a straight case of airing of one’s grievances. 

Akbar is the most prominent Muslim face of the BJP, and he has been a source of strength to the Modi government at the diplomatic level, liaising with several foreign governments and rulers with whom he has personal equations. He should not be made a scapegoat by listening to what are as yet unsubstantiated and loosely flaunted allegations — the government thinking went.

The government seems to be taking the stand that if anyone felt they were wronged by the minister, they could approach the legal systems to get justice. The minister himself could do this if he felt the allegations were baseless. There was no need for the government to feel embarrassed.

Government and BJP sources also say the Opposition cannot get to make any political advantage of this situation even as the minister is retained in the Union ministry. Politics worked based on different dynamics. Protecting the minister at this juncture, as long as no allegation is proven against him, would mean the government will not yield to pressure of any kind, a BJP source said. 

Akbar might have flirted with women. But so did a whole lot of men, and this includes those in the media and other fields too, as is also hinted at in the raising of allegations against Nata Patekar, Alok Nath etc.  It was for a court to decide who was guilty, the source pointed out. 

Expectations of the women who made the allegations were possibly that the minister will be asked out of the government or he would be so embarrassed to put in his resignation upon return from Nigeria. Both are not happening.–IHN-NN

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