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Charges false and fabricated; will take legal action: Akbar

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New Delhi: Minister of state for external affairs M.J. Akbar refused to step down from his post and denied allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by several women. Hours after returning to New Delhi on Sunday morning after an official visit to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, he termed these as “viral fever”. saying that they were “false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice”, adding that he would be “taking appropriate legal action”. He further said: “Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy.”
Akbar added: “A sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened.”
Implying a political motive behind the allegations, he wondered why the “storm” had risen a few months before the elections. There had been considerable speculation over the past few days whether Akbar would resign or not in the wake of the allegations, particularly as Akbar had not reacted for a few days. The Congress attacked the government on the issue, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the matter was “conspicuous and unacceptable”.
Sources said Akbar’s decision to not resign was taken after consulting the top BJP leadership and after he explained his side of the story on the sexual misconduct allegations levelled against him. There was a growing feeling within the BJP that the #MeToo campaign was turning into an effort to malign the party and if Akbar were to resign, it would give ammunition to the Opposition ahead of the crucial Assembly polls. Akbar is a Rajya Sabha member belonging to the BJP.
As far as the RSS is concerned, sources said senior RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale’s sharing a Facebook post of a former JNU student on #MeToo was in support of the campaign after questions were raised on the Sangh Parivar’s stand. The Sangh, sources said, is also aware that any action against Akbar would turn into a political issue, which could affect the BJP.
In a statement, Akbar said: “The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad. Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action.”
Akbar added: “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. Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. As indicated above, I will be taking appropriate legal action.”
Several women journalists, including Ghazala Wahab, Priya Ramani, Shutapa Paul and Shuma Raha, had made allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar.
In his statement, Akbar said: “ Priya Ramani … did not however name me … When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a tweet: ‘Never named him because he didn’t ‘do anything’. If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There is no story. This was admitted at the very inception. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened… Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything.”
Akbar further said: “Let me note examples. Shutapa Paul states: ‘The man never laid a hand on me’. Shuma Raha says: ‘I must clarify, however, that he didn’t actually do anything’. One woman … went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim.”
Replying to the allegations of sexual harassment against him by Ghazala Wahab, Akbar said: “Another accusation was made repeatedly by Ms Ghazala Wahab, in an effort to damage my reputation. She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in the media. The only office where I worked with her was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away. It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These allegations are false, motivated and baseless.”
“ Wahab states that she complained to Veenu Sandal, who wrote features for the paper. Sandal has described Wahab’s version as nonsense, in an interview to the Indian Express. Ms Sandal has also said she has never heard, in 20 years, anybody accusing me of any such thing.
“It is pertinent to remember that both Ramani and Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; this clearly establishes that they had no apprehension and discomfort. The reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent: as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything. This is the reason why no one went to the authorities for so long, because I had done nothing.”


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JD(S) will support Congress in stopping BJP from coming back to power: Deve Gowda

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New Delhi:The former prime minister said that the results of Lok Sabha poll will be declared on May 23 and a clear picture will emerge before the entire country on that day.
Former prime minister and JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda on Saturday said that his party is standing firmly with Congress and he will not like to speak more this matter. Gowda said that the results of Lok Sabha poll will be declared on May 23 and a clear picture will emerge before the entire country on that day.
“We are with Congress, I don’t want to speak anything more. On 23rd results will come, clear picture will be known to the entire country & what further development takes place,” the JD(S) chief was quoted as saying by ANI.
JD(S) Chief and Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda: We are with Congress, I don’t want to speak anything more. On 23rd results will come, clear picture will be known to the entire country & what further development takes place. pic.twitter.com/sxbgQXwV2D
The former prime minister made the remarks after offering prayers at Lord Venkateshwara temple on the occasion of his birthday. Gowda was accompanied by his family members, including Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. The JD(S) supremo stressed that since his party is the coalition partner of the Congress in Karnataka and they have contested the Lok Sabha poll in alliance, his party would support the Congress in order to keep BJP away from power.
On the news that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had called a meeting of non-NDA party leaders on May 23, Gowda remarked that he has not received any invite from Sonia Gandhi yet but he would be happy to attend the meeting. He added that by calling the meeting, Sonia Gnadhi is showing her “political maturity”.
The JD(S) chief also said that it is impossible for regional parties to form a government at the Centre without Congress’ support. He added that many leaders want to become the PM and it is necessary that different parties need a consensus over the prime minister’s name.
Meanwhile, talking to media, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswsamy said that Congress and JD(S) alliance has performed well in the Lok Sabha election and the alliance would win at least 18-19 Lok Sabha seats out of total 28 from Karnataka. He added that JD(S)’ support to Congress will continue both at state as well as national level.

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Akhilesh tears into PM Modi’s press conference, calls it last episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ on TV

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NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden press conference, saying the media interaction looked “like last episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ of the prime minister and the only difference was it was aired on TV and not on radio.
“Development is asking have you seen the first press conference of Pradhan ji. Seems like the last episode of Mann ki Baat has been aired on TV instead of radio. Media persons did not get to ask their questions and the disciplined soldiers remained silent,” tweeted the SP chief.
Loktantrik Janata Dal party chief Sharad Yadav also hit out at PM Modi, saying the press conference was the farewell press conference of the BJP. Yadav added that the prime minister remained at the helm of affairs for five years and yet he is not able to face media.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that PM Modi’s body language at the press conference showed that he had accepted defeat in Lok Sabha poll. “Today, the whole country saw Modi ji`s body language at the press conference. The world has seen that Modi ji has accepted defeat and he presented himself in the same way in front of the media. He did not answer any question. No one can ask him a question,” tweeted Gehlot.

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110 women candidates contesting Lok Sabha election declared criminal cases, 255 are crorepatis: ADR

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Mumbai :One hundred and ten women candidates contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha election have declared criminal cases against themselves including those relating to murder and rape among other serious offences.
The data is based on a report by the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in which the affidavits of 716 out of 724 women candidates were analysed. The affidavits of eight women candidates were not analysed due to unclear reports.
As per the report, 110 women candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, 78 have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, crimes against women and two are convicted criminals.
Four women candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section 302) while 16 have declared cases of attempt to murder (IPC Section-307).
Fourteen women candidates have declared cases related to crimes against women – causing miscarriage without a woman’s consent (IPC Section-313), assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section-354) and word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (IPC Section-509).
Names of seven women candidates have come up in cases related to hate speech.
Partywise, 14 out of 54 women candidates are from Congress, 18 out of 53 are from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two out of 24 are from Bahujan Samajwadi Party, six out of 23 are from Trinamool Congress (TMC). 22 out of 222 Independent women candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
Ten women candidates with serious criminal cases belong to the Congress party, 13 are from BJP, 2 from BSP, 4 out of 23 are from TMC and 21 are Independent women candidates.
Out of the 716 women candidates analysed, 255 are crorepatis. The average assets per women candidate contesting in the Lok Sabha election is Rs 5.63 crore.
BJP’s Hema Malini, DA Sathya Prabha from TDP and Harsimrat Kaur Badal from SAD are the three richest women candidates contesting in the Lok Sabha election.
Education details of women candidates: 232 of them have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th pass and 12th pass, 396 have declared having an educational qualification of graduate and above. 37 women candidates have declared themselves to be just literate and 26 women candidates are illiterates. Two candidates have not given their educational qualification details.
Age details of women candidates: 531 have declared their age to be between 25 and 50 years, 180 have declared their age to be between 51 and 80 years and one candidate has declared she is more than 80-years-old. While three women candidates have not disclosed their age details and one has declared her age to be below 25 years.

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