MJ Akbar, the junior minister for external affairs who is at the centre of a #MeToo firestorm, will not be cutting short his foreign tour. Akbar, who is in Africa, will head to Malabo in Equatorial Guinea as he was scheduled to and is likely to return to India only by the weekend.
Akbar, a former journalist, faces serious allegations of sexual harassment. The allegations have been made by a number of women journalists, who have come forward as part of the #MeToo campaign that has raging on the India social media.
The accounts are from a time when Akbar held senior editorial positions in media firms. The women have described how Akbar used to conduct meetings and interviews in hotel rooms and exhibit “predatory” behaviour.
At least one woman has accused Akbar of molesting her. Akbar was her editor when he allegedly molested her in his office cabin.
Akbar or his Ministry of External Affairs office have not commented on the allegations against him despite multiple media inquires. His boss, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj too has been silent on the issue and recently sidestepped pointed questions by journalists in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, sources have told India Today TV that the government will ask Akbar to step down as the Minister of State for External Affairs once he returns from Africa.
The African tour, however, will continue as scheduled. Akbar has already visited Nigeria where he spoke at various engagements at the India-West Africa Conclave.
During one of his addresses, Akbar said, “The best way to eliminate poverty is to empower women. If you invest in women, you invest in future.”
He is now headed to the central African state of Equatorial Guinea. He is likely to return sometime over the weekend.