MJ Akbar’s continuance in the government was not only turning to be a matter of shame and disgrace for the Narendra Modi government, but the number of victims accusing him of sexual harassment was also increasing exponentially. His defamation lawsuit against Priya Ramani has seen former colleagues at The Asian Age coming out in support of Priya. They are also willing to testify against Akbar in the court.
I think BJP had its reputation at stake. In Kathua, this regime was accused of protecting the rapists, and its leaders namely Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga came openly in support of rapists. They even attended a rally of “Hindu Ekta Manch” organised in support of the rape accused. This brazen display of arrogance and ill will angered the masses which ultimately forced the central leadership to ask these leaders to resign.
Better sense prevailed, and they resigned. In Unnao rape case, a BJP lawmaker, Kuldeep Sengar was arrested.
BJP MLA from Bisauli constituency of Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district, Kushagra Sagar, was accused of raping his maid’s minor daughter. This series of events made BJP prone to attacks from the opposition who alleged that the current regime is not only anti-women but also hand-in-hand with rapists and trying to protect them.
MJ Akbar’s episode has made the opposition’s voice grow louder. For the past few days, neither Prime Minister nor any government spokesperson had anything to say on this. When the voices grew louder, the victims revealing the darkest secrets, it became untenable for MJ Akbar to survive as Minister of State in this government. It is believed that PMO has intervened in this, but their silence is not broken yet, publicly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows that elections are not that far away and he doesn’t want to carry the baggage of MJ Akbar going into the election campaign. Opposition has already cornered him on big issues like Rafale Deal, rising oil prices and the falling rupee, these issues have ensured opposition has enough armoury up their sleeve. It’s against this backdrop; that PMO has intervened and asked Akbar to go, before his continuance causes irreparable damage to Prime Minister’s reputation.
What is appalling at this crucial juncture is that BJP has neither owned MJ Akbar nor disowned him. They have neither lent their support to women coming out with their sexual harassment tales nor have they backed MJ Akbar when he called this a political propaganda. This silence is not going to help them. MeToo has gained enough momentum in the past month or so, and series of allegations against a prominent figure will neither go unnoticed in media nor on ground.
BJP must, before wasting any further time, come in moral support of these women. This can somehow salvage their dwindling character and fame.