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ET View: MJ Akbar must step down, or be removed

ET Bureau|
Oct 11, 2018, 01.04 PM IST
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akbar-BCCL
If MJ Akbar does not step down by his own accord, the government then must do the necessary to have him step down.
Minister of External Affairs MJ Akbar has to step down from his position in government. Regardless of whether to take this issue as part of the #MeToo campaign against sexual harrassment or outside it, some serious charges have been levelled against the former journalist charging him of serious offences. This is not just about being in government and thereby the need to be like Caesar’s wife and above suspicion. Some of the charges against him pertaining to sexual harrassment are grave and, indeed, criminal regardless of whether he was a member of the government or not.

This is not about moral turpitude and a mob suddenly deciding to besmirch a public figure. This is about a criminal charge – that, too, a habitual offence conducted reportedly over years – that needs to be dealt with. It is for the courts to decide whether, indeed, Akbar is guilty of what he has been charged with by multiple persons. The narrative must not move into the graveyard shift region of questions like ‘Why have these so-called victims spoken out now?’, ‘Are the actions Akbar is being accused of a part of a ‘herd movement’ that sees many women coming out to bring down powerful men?’ These are all red herrings. What matters is that Akbar steps down. The government cannot be seen protecting one of their own against the law. The media, too, has for far too long been accused – perhaps, rightly – by some quarters of upholding the strange and sad dictum, ‘Dogs don’t eat dogs’ – a prettier way of saying ‘Bros over hos’. Let that kind of accusation against the government be buried before it rises from the ground. If MJ Akbar does not step down by his own accord, the government then must do the necessary to have him step down.
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