New Delhi, Oct 13: Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by at least nine women, is set return to India from his foreign trip on Sunday and it remains to be seen what is in store for him.
While the Congress has demanded that Akbar be removed from the post of minister, the BJP's response has been measured.
The junior foreign minister, who has been on an official trip abroad, has so far not responded to the charges. A PTI report quoted party sources as saying the charges against him are serious, and his continuance as a minister is no longer guaranteed. A final call will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they said.
There is also a view within the party that there is no legal case against him, and allegations pertain to a time long before he became a minister. Multiple women in the last few days have offered their accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of lives.
While the BJP has kept mum, some woman ministers have lent their support to the #MeToo movement without taking a stand on the charges against Akbar. Party leaders have said it is for Akbar to respond to the charges first.
Here's what other ministers/ BJP leaders have said so far about MJ Akbar:
Union Textile Smriti Irani
Smriti Irani on Thursday said that the 'gentlemen concerned would be in a better position to speak on this issue'.
"The gentlemen concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues... But I think it is for the gentlemen concerned to issues a statement and not for me as I was personally not present there..Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, should in no way be victimised or mocked," Irani said.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi
Union Minister For Women And Child Development Maneka Gandhi was the first minister to react on MJ Akbar's issue.
Gandhi had on Tuesday said: "There should be an investigation. Men in position of power often do this. This applies to media, politics and seniors working in companies. Now that women have started speaking out, we should take it seriously."
BJP president Amit Shah
In the wake of #Me Too allegations against MJ Akbar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has said the numerous charges of sexual harassment against union minister will be probed.
"We will definitely look into the issue. We have to see whether these allegations are true or false. We haven't heard anything from his side, so it is really difficult to comment anything on that at the moment," he said.
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale
"We should listen to his statement. Presently he is out of India. Investigation should happen and if he is found guilty, then he should step down. The complaints by the women are serious, but I feel it is necessary to listen once to MJ Akbar. Police should conduct an investigation and if he is found guilty, then he should resign," Athawale had told news agency ANI.
OneIndia News with PTI inputs