Journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar has resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs over allegations of sexual harassment levelled by several women as part of the MeToo movement.
Akbar, however, reiterated that allegations levelled against him are false. He released a statement in this regard, which was shared on Twitter by news agency ANI.
The statement read, "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 levied against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs. I am deeply grateful to the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and to the External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country."
The development comes even as Akbar has challenged the allegations against him in the Patiala House Court in the national capital. He filed a criminal defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani, who was among those who accused him of sexual harassment.
The court is slated to hear the case filed by Akbar on October 18, Thursday.
MJ Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 20 women journalists in the ongoing MeToo movement on social media. He denied all charges, referring to them as "false, wild and baseless".
The Congress party had been demanding Akbar's resignation since the allegations came to the fore. The opposition party had also questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. Questions pertaining to the journalist-turned-politician were repeatedly skirted by members of the central government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Akbar had alleged political reasons behind the allegations against him, pointing that they came ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill," he had said.