New Delhi: In its first official comments on the sexual harassment allegations levelled against Union minister M J Akbar, the BJP said on Monday that the latter has given his version on the row and that it is not about whether the party agrees or disagrees with him.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao was asked at a press conference whether the ruling party agrees with Akbar on his statement on the allegations levelled against him by several women.
“It is not about agreeing or disagreeing. He has presented his version,” Rao said.
The Minister of State of External Affairs had Sunday rejected the allegations as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against the accusers.
BJP leaders and spokespersons had so far maintained a studied silence on the issue amid an increasing demand for the minister to quit his position.
On the other hand, the opposition stepped up the attack on the Narendra Modi government over the issue and demanded Akbar’s resignation.
“In this whole MJAkbar episode the anti-women face of the BJP government has been exposed. By not asking the minister to resign, BJP is being arrogant and insensitive,” said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in a statement.
The Youth Congress activists staged a protest near the residence of Akbar, demanding his “immediate resignation” over sexual harassment allegations.
The activists gathered at Teen Murti roundabout raised slogans against the junior foreign minister and tried to march towards his residence when they were stopped by the police.
A few protesters who tried to march ahead towards police barricades were detained.
“The Indian Youth Congress (IYC) is protesting against M J Akbar for his sexual misconduct and harassment of journalists. As many as 10 female journalists have come forward and detailed sexual harassment by him,” the outfit said in a statement.
Leading the protesters, vice president of IYC BV Srinivas demanded Akbar’s “immediate resignation” saying he has no “moral right” to continue in his post.
“No one in Indian politics till now has the kind of sullied image as M J Akbar,” he said in the statement.
Despite “serious allegations” against the minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has maintained a “studied silence” on the matter, he alleged.
The ruling coalition of NDA led by the BJP which had made tall promises of ” Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” cannot and must not be allowed to shield a man of “questionable conduct,” the IYC statement added.
Meanwhile, Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani, the first of the several women journalists who levelled charges of sexual harassment against the Minister of State for External Affairs.
Akbar has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.
On Sunday, Akbar had categorically refuted the allegations levelled against him Sunday categorically as “false, baseless and fabricated” and also threatened to take legal action against the accusers.