#MeToo — MR PRIME MINISTER, DID YOU KNOW IT?
- S Pal
#MeToo — MR PRIME MINISTER, DID YOU KNOW IT?



MJ AKBAR HAS resigned. It is after the resignation that the real loss to the reputation of the Narendra Modi government has begun. 

If anyone thought that the Modi government was losing face due to the presence of M J Akbar in the Council of Ministers, they need to understand realpolitik once again.

As long as Akbar was there, the entire rage generated by the #MeToo campaign was directed at Akbar. Newspapers were full of details about his itinerary, the countries he was visiting, when he would return, his statement against women who accused him, his defamation case, the battery of his lawyers, his upcoming court hearing, his writings, his sense of suave dressing, his command over English, his acumen as editor, and, whenever possible, his bathrobe and underwear.

Now that his undergarments are out of the conversation, everyone's attention will be on the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept silent on this controversy.
In fact, even after Akbar resigned, sources in the government and the BJP went out of their way to make it clear that Akbar will remain in the BJP and that his resignation was his personal choice.   
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No one is inducted into the Union Council of Ministers without an internal check by the sleuths. The intelligence bureau presents a dossier that goes through all relevant pairs of eyes, including those of the prime minister.
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Modi and the BJP are making it clear, in so many words, that not only do they not want any credit for showing Akbar the way out, but they actually watched him go with a heavy heart.

And this is what will bring the focus back on how Akbar came to be inducted in the Union Council of Ministers. Surely, the induction of MJ Akbar followed the same procedural course as that of anyone aspiring to be a minister in the government of India.

No one is inducted into the Union Council of Ministers without an internal check by the sleuths. The intelligence bureau presents a dossier that goes through all relevant pairs of eyes, including those of the prime minister. Thankfully, India's intelligence agencies are capable enough of not missing what half of Delhi's drawing room circles knew, and the other half talked about incessantly.

Do you think that the IB dossier on Akbar would have not mentioned a word about the former editor's flamboyant ways with women, and downright predatory attitude? In case that has happened, we should get to read in the newspapers that heads of important IB honchos have rolled because of their failure to inform the prime minister that the man he was about to induct in the ministry could seriously harm his reputation one day.

Akbar's libido did not have an expiry date, and we are still not sure if he did not continue with his ways in the ministry. Remember that we do not have any account, not even an anonymous one, from any women working the ministry with Akbar that they did not suspect any such behaviour in all these past months and could never have thought that Akbar was such a dangerous man to be around.

So, did Modi read the IB report and decided to ignore it? Did Modi take the approach that 'men would be men' and such things often come packaged with successful men? Did Modi read the intelligence report on Akbar and summoned and warned him that he was inducting his into the ministry but he will not brook such behaviour from now onwards?

Alternatively, did the IB or other intelligence agencies gave no warning in their reports before the induction of Akbar into the ministry?
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Alternatively, did the IB or other intelligence agencies gave no warning in their reports before the induction of Akbar into the ministry?
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The Prime Minister can save his reputation by making public the intelligence dossier on Akbar, related to this aspect. If it was the failure of the intelligence agencies, then let those sleuths take the blame. Failure to do so will only confirm the worst fears: that everyone in the establishment knew what kind of person Akbar was, and they did not care.

Do you think when the news of Akbar possibly joining the Union Council of Ministers swirled around Delhi's gossip circles at the India International Centre, the Habitat Centre, the Golf Club, the Press Club, the Foreign Correspondents' Club and the many watering holes of Lutyens’ town, those women would not have called up each other and their friends with a sense of shock and disbelief?

How long do you think it takes for such talk to get around and permeate right down to the power structures at the top? And yet, Akbar was inducted, he stayed in the ministry, went flitting around the world, shook hands with women Indian and foreign, and worked under a woman boss. Every second that he was in that job, India's reputation was on the line.

Akbar was no political heavy weight, he did not make space for himself in the ministry by the dent of his political background or mass following. He was a personal pick of Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi owes an explanation to the country about why he inducted Akbar. Also, Narendra Modi owes an explanation of why he did not sack Akbar.

It was the travesty of justice that Akbar was allowed to resign. Also, the resignation of anyone from the ministry is not a punishment for violating the bodily integrity of a score of young talented aspirational women, decimating their dignity and sexually harassing them as a way of life.

By now, it is clear that MJ Akbar's typical day was: dress up, go to office, eye a young attractive woman, call her to the cabin, stare/ogle at her, make her feel uncomfortable, try to touch her and then take a pick - will he put his hand on her back, or try to pluck her bra strap, or shove his tongue down her throat? 
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Narendra Modi owes an explanation to the country about why he inducted Akbar. Also, Narendra Modi owes an explanation of why he did not sack Akbar.
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Day after day, woman after woman. 

If woman after woman talked about this, surely the men knew. Surely many of those men are today senior journalists, authors. Surely, they too would have spoken to many in the corridors of power, asking what makes this man the right fit in the ministry?

Akbar was in the Modi ministry because the men who mattered cared nothing about his transgressions. And Modi has not moved a finger or opened his mouth to make it clear that he is not a man like that.

Instead, his people have now informed the media that Akbar will very much continue to serve the BJP. The nature of his services rendered is national news, by the way.

On Thursday, the day after Akbar put in his papers, BJP's Ram Madhav has written an op-ed article on the #MeToo movement. The effort must be thoroughly lauded because it is the first #MeToo related article that manages to not make a single reference to a man called M J Akbar.

Madhav has praised three Union ministers — Menaka Gandhi, Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman, saying  they "deserve compliments for breaking that silence and raising their voice in support of the women who spoke out." He left out Sushma Swaraj who chose to remain silent and will forever remain accountable for it.

But with that, he also condemned every single male minister of the Modi government who chose to say nothing. The likes of Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari might have remained silent because they gave the space to PM Modi to say something or act, but that they remained silent even after Akbar quit shows they were lesser men.

It is this silence that will hurt women of India. The silence of Modi on what he did know before inducting Akbar, the silence of others regarding the likes of Akbar even after he left.

India's women are a vote bank that has never come together as one. Modi and company have tried to forge it into a vote bank with all that talk of Ujjwala, Beti Bachao, Triple Talaq. This awakened mass of women now watch the silence of men. 

That silence is on the other side of the political divide also, but rage often singes those in power.
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Akbar’s undergarments are now out of the conversation, and the question is: Does the emperor have any clothes on?
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In America, the Democrats, by opposing Judge Brett Kavanaugh's ascension to the Supreme Court, and by then watching him assume that coveted seat, have made sure that women come out in huge numbers and do what needs to be done — vote out the sexual harasser number one of the world, Donald Trump.

In India, Modi can avoid that tag of being the protector number one of a known top sexual harasser. He needs to speak up. He has the megaphone of the nation. He has the Red Fort as his pulpit. He has the Vigyan Bhawan as his bullpen. He has his Mann Ki Baat as his fireside chat show.

He is silent.

With Akbar out, Modi's silence is more painful. That pain is right now in the national public eye at least as far as women are concerned.

It is not just that Akbar has filed a defamation case against a Priya Ramani. It is that Modi is not saying a word against Akbar, and on #MeToo.

Akbar is gone. Narendra Modi is in the public eye. That's when real loss starts.

Akbar’s undergarments are now out of the conversation, and the question is: Does the emperor have any clothes on?

Tell the nation: DID YOU KNOW IT?
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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