Sushma Swaraj ducking a question on allegations of sexual harassment against M.J. Akbar is problematic for Modi government.

The government, which gave us the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, can’t remain silent now. Period.

The short video clip of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj failing to respond to journalist Smita Sharma’s pointed question on M.J. Akbar has gone viral.

In the wake of #MeToo in India, serious allegations of sexual harassment have been levelled against Akbar, Swaraj’s junior in the external affairs ministry and a former editor.

There are many who feel that Swaraj should have responded, even if to say that she was leaving it to Akbar, currently abroad, to reply to the accusations against him. For a senior politician like Swaraj, who certainly understands the importance of perception in politics, walking away from a question on such an important matter, or refusing to respond, is bad optics.


Also read: #MeTooIndia can change the way we treat women in India


Silence, she knows very well, isn’t always golden, especially when it is in response to a question about allegations of sexual harassment against her junior colleague in the ministry.

That the Narendra Modi government has perfected the art of choosing not to respond to uncomfortable questions in the hope that the issue will die down soon is well-known. But, in the middle of the raging #MeToo movement, this is one issue where the government can’t afford to remain silent.

The allegations against Akbar, supposedly the suave Muslim face of the Narendra Modi government, are too serious to even hope that those will be eclipsed once something newsier comes.


Also read: Here’s why the Right-wing is so muted about India’s raging #MeToo movement


In this age of social media, where every smartphone user with an internet data pack is a mediaperson, the multiple accounts of harassment, several of them too repulsive to be republished, won’t just fade away.

The government of the day will have to respond, and not just through a wishy-washy statement. In fact, ensuring women safety was one of the cornerstones of the Modi government. In his first Independence Day speech in 2014, the Prime Minister said the country’s head hangs in shame over incidents of rape. “When such incidents happen, parents question their daughters, but does anyone dare ask their sons?” he said.


Also read: What do you do when your woke friend is named in #MeToo


Unfortunately for this government, despite the multiple tall promises, there is a huge vote bank, especially among the youth, which has bought into the Prime Minister’s speeches on women’s safety and ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. They will be looking forward to his response to the issue of sexual harassment and allegations against Akbar.

For, whether he likes it or not, the allegations against Akbar aren’t going away – in fact, one can expect some more women to come forward with their own Akbar tales.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Great merit in the American system of a daily press briefing, one in the White House – which President Trump is trying to dilute – and in other important offices like the State Department. Keeps the government on its toes, accountable to the people on a continuing basis.

    • Lol , apparently you haven’t seen the daily “farce” of the White House briefings where journalists are regularly abused, humiliated and mocked for being too dumb and the outright labeling of “fake news”. Its has become so staid that the media there no longer attends or covers the daily briefing. The only one on toes is the camera men.

      Our system is infinitely better. The need to do constantly entertain every absurd remark and silly allegation from any of the hundreds of millions of crackpots is nothing but a circus that distracts from governance.

      • “Our system is infinitely better” to paraphrase you, LOL. How is this an “absurd remark or silly allegation” except to andh bhakts.

  2. The absurd hubris of these clowns in asking the Modi Govt to answer something that took place long ago by someone who wasn’t even a party member then and about allegations that are not even worth an FIR is beyond farcical!

    “He asked me if he could come over with a bottle of rum”? Oh yeah let’s throw him in prison and throw away the key! How dare he call you on the telephone!! Lol

    This is pathetic nonsense that demeans real victims and real survivors of assault. These opportunistic females with lose morals decided that a few months before the election is the right time for their #boohoo movement. Apparently this sort of inane nonsense now makes them in the same league as Nirbhaya ?

    #metooIndia is a reprehensible attempt to ape the west by attention seeking opportunists. Either file some charges or stop wasting my time!!

  3. There is more to this than meets the eye. It is not arrogance or brazenness on the part of the BJP to avoid taking any action against MJ Akbar. Don’t we recall the STALKING allegation made by a female architect of Gujarat origin against our Mr Narendra Modi? I am not using the honorific of ‘prime minister’ because of any disrespect, but because he hadn’t assumed this office then — this incident belongs to the pre-2014 elections time.

    This lady and her father had complained that all her movements, telephone calls etc were being tracked, in short she was being “stalked” on the behest of Narendra Modi. She didn’t say, as far as I remember, that she was subjected to any sexist words or suggestions, but her complaint was, in essence, that she was being given undue male attention which she was finding suffocating. And that male happened to be Mr Modi. I think this was the reason why she shifted out to Bangalore or some other place down south.

    Who can say being in love is a crime?! Do big people not have a heart? But being overly obsessed with a person can lead to irksome and embarrassing, and eventually objectionable behavior. That holds for small and big people alike. I remember Mr Modi’s best friend Amit Shah too was involved in it in some capacity. I think he was being the facilitator of stalking, being then the home minster of Gujarat.

    If the BJP takes any action against MJA, and tomorrow that architect lady joins the MEE TOO campaign and speaks up against Mr Modi, what happens then ??!! You can’t blame the BJP for being careful.

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