#METOO DRAWS BLOOD
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