India Today - - CONTENTS - By Uday Mahurkar and Kaushik Deka

In the end, the pres­sure was too much for even a brazen, blus­ter­ing M.J. Ak­bar to with­stand. And that must in large part be due to the women who, far from be­ing cowed by Ak­bar’s de­ci­sion to sue jour­nal­ist Priya Ra­mani for defama­tion, chose to speak louder. More women pub­lished ac­counts of be­ing ha­rassed by Ak­bar. Oth­ers ral­lied around Ra­mani, ask­ing to be heard in court along­side her. Oth­ers still looked to set up a crowd­fund­ing ini­tia­tive on her be­half to cover le­gal ex­penses.

Un­til Ak­bar’s sur­prise res­ig­na­tion, the spec­u­la­tion in­side BJP cir­cles was that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah weren’t pre­pared to cut Ak­bar loose. They feared, some said, that sack­ing Ak­bar would open a Pan­dora’s box, en­cour­age po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents to make friv­o­lous claims. The party re­sponse was both de­layed and con­fused, with some, like Union min­is­ters Maneka Gandhi and Sm­riti Irani, ap­pear­ing to favour an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ak­bar’s con­duct, and oth­ers claim­ing it was part of a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy. One party leader, who asked to re­main anony­mous, said, be­fore news broke of Ak­bar’s res­ig­na­tion on Oc­to­ber 17, that “the Congress was al­ready do­ing its best to ex­ploit the Rafale is­sue to try and taint the in­cor­rupt­ible im­age of the gov­ern­ment and par­tic­u­larly the prime min­is­ter. Now if Ak­bar is made to quit on moral grounds, it opens the door for more al­le­ga­tions, ma­lign ones con­cocted by a des­per­ate Congress”.

It is true the Congress saw an op­por­tu­nity in the furore sur­round­ing Ak­bar. Which op­po­si­tion wouldn’t? Congress spokesper­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala said: “Modi’s si­lence shows the hol­low­ness and lack of com­mit­ment of his gov­ern­ment to women’s dig­nity and wel­fare. ‘Beti bachao’ is just a slo­gan.” An­other Congress spokesper­son, Shak­tis­inh Go­hil, said, “Moral grounds

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