Minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar resigned on Wednesday after facing charges of sexual misconduct long back years when he was a journalist and newspaper editor.
About a dozen woman journalists have accused Akbar of inappropriate behavior as part of the #MeToo campaign.
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levelled against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of MoS for external affairs. I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and to the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country,” Akbar said in a statement.
The minister has sued journalist Priya Ramani for criminal defamation in a Delhi court for sparking off the allegations against him.
The National Democratic Alliance government had come under immense pressure to remove him from office after the allegations surfaced against Akbar, who was on an official overseas visit when the first accusations were made.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which initially maintained a stoic silence on the issue, has now distanced itself from Akbar; claiming that the incidents date to a time when Akbar was not a member of the party. The party has also argued that seeking legal recourse to defend his name was a right that cannot be denied to Akbar. BJP president Amit Shah, however, said the party will look into the charges to ascertain their veracity.
Most BJP MPs and ministers have refrained from commenting on the issue.