New Delhi :
After days of stubbornness, Union Minister MJ Akbar on Wednesday relented to the public pressure and resigned from his post over the allegations of sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo movement gripping the country.
Akbar, who held the portfolio of Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs in Narendra Modi cabinet, was accused of sexually harassing women colleagues when he was a newspaper journalist.
As many as 20 women came out with their stories of horror faced at the hands of the BJP leader. Akbar, however, denied the allegations and even filed a defamation suit against Priya Ramani – the first woman who accused Akbar of sexual harassment.
"Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levelled against me..." Akbar said in a statement released through news agency ANI.
Reacting to Akbar’s resignation, Ramani said, “As women, we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation. I look forward to the day when I also get justice in court.”
The Opposition Congress termed the resignation a “vindication of truth” and hailed the women who stood their ground despite the minister’s “defamation threat” and the “misuse of power” by the Modi government.
"To Priya Ramani and all the strong women who spoke up and stood their ground, my immense respect. This resignation is a vindication of the power of truth. More strength to India’s women! #MeTooIndia," Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s Patiala House court will begin the hearing in the criminal defamation complaint filed by Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago.
Akbar has reportedly hired a battery of 97 lawyers to represent him in the court. However, Karanjawala & Co, the law firm which fighting his case, said that only six will appear on MJ Akbar’s behalf.