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Akbar calls charges wild and false, mum on quitting

He joined BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. A Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, he was inducted into the Modi government in July 2016.

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 14 : Giving no indication of resigning from the government, Union Minister M.J. Akbar, who is facing charges of sexual harassment and wrongdoing by around a dozen women journalists, on Sunday called the allegations “false, wild and baseless” and vowed to take legal action against the accusers.

“Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned (from abroad), my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” he said in a statement hours after his return.

Akbar, who was abroad on an official trip in Nigeria when allegations were made by women journalists who had worked with him in newspapers over 15 years ago as part of the #MeToo campaign, asked whether there was an agenda in the allegations as they came ahead of general elections.

While Akbar issued a statement, there was no word from the government or the ruling BJP as to whether he would continue in the government amidst opposition demands for his resignation.

“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 said.

“Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action,” said the 67-year-old former Editor of Asian Age.

Referring to charges by former colleague Priya Ramani, who had written an article a year ago and now named him following the #MeToo campaign, Akbar said: “Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not, however, name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. 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’s no story. 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,” he said.

He referred to other journalists and said: “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, Anju Bharti, went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim.”

Akbar, a founding editor of The Telegraph daily and Sunday magazine, was a big name in the media industry before he joined politics in 1989 when he fought the Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket and became an MP.

He joined BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. A Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, he was inducted into the Modi government in July 2016.

Rebutting allegations by some others, Akbar said: “Another accusation was made repeatedly by 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 media.

“The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab 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.

“Pertinent to remember Ramani and Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; clearly establishes they had no apprehension and discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent, as Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything,” he added.

Election

Bihar: Congress gears for ‘Mahila Kranti Sammelan’ to be addressed by Priyanka Gandhi

As preparations are underway for the women’s conference, Congress is booking cinema halls and auditoriums in all the districts of Bihar so that women can see and hear Priyanka Gandhi on a big screen

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

New Delhi [India], September 27 : As women have been hailed as the ‘silent force’ behind Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s electoral victories in Bihar, the Congress party has decided to woo them by launching ‘Mahila Kranti Sammelan’ ahead of the State Assembly polls.

According to sources, the party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will address this conference through virtual mode, which is likely to be held in the second week of October.

“We are preparing to hold a huge women’s conference. For this, we have sought time from Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi,” a top Congress said.

As preparations are underway for the women’s conference, Congress is booking cinema halls and auditoriums in all the districts of Bihar so that women can see and hear Priyanka Gandhi on a big screen.

The party has decided to install screens in rural areas as well. Apart from this, a large number of women will also be connected through mobile phones and social media. The aim of the party is that about 50,000 women from all over Bihar directly participate in the conference and in addition, about 5,00,000 people join the sammelan through social media, the source added.

Earlier, virtual conferences held in North Bihar were more successful than expected. Now, with the elections coming closer, the party is planning to arrange everything in a larger manner with campaigning by the top leadership of the party. For this, a platform will be set up in the national capital, from where big leaders will send a message to the people of Bihar.

It is to note that in Bihar, Congress is contesting on the faces of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. In such a situation, the party is dependent on them to woo the larger audience in Bihar. Along with Priyanka Gandhi’s women’s conference, virtual rallies of Rahul Gandhi are also being planned ahead of the Assembly polls in Bihar. In the first week of August, Rahul Gandhi had addressed the party workers of Bihar through video conferencing.

In Bihar, the main challenge before Congress is to get more seats in an alliance with the RJD.

Bihar has elections scheduled in three phases from October 28 to November 7. The counting of votes will take place on November 10.

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India

Karnataka’s Congress MLA Gundu Rao tests corona positive

As about 60 legislators and scores of legislature Secretariat staff tested positive, the 8-day session was curtailed to 6 days and adjourned sine die on Saturday night.

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Gundu Rao

Bengaluru, Sep 27 : Karnataka’s Congress legislator Dinesh Gundu Rao tested coronavirus positive and was sent in home isolation, an official said on Sunday.

“Rao’s swab sample result, which came earlier in the day, was positive. He is presently in isolation at his home in the city,” party spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS.

Rao, 50, is a fifth-time legislator from Gandhinagar segment in Bengaluru central suburb.

“I have tested crona positive today. Therefore, will be quarantining myself for 10 days. I request all my primary contacts to get checked and take precautions,” Rao tweeted.

Rao attended the truncated 6-day Monsoon Session of the Assembly at Vidhana Soudha in the city centre till Saturday night.

“Rao attended the Assembly session from September 21, after he tested negative in mandatory corona test he took along with other lawmakers on September 18 and was well till yesterday (Saturday),” Gowda recalled.

Rao was the party’s state unit President till March and is the party’s Tamil Nadu unit incharge. He was a Minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2015-16.

“Rao visited Chennai on September 25 and met the party’s Tami Nadu unit members and DMK President MK Stalin before returning to the city on Saturday morning,” Gowda added.

As about 60 legislators and scores of legislature Secretariat staff tested positive, the 8-day session was curtailed to 6 days and adjourned sine die on Saturday night.

Those infected include Deputy Chief Ministers Govind Karjol and CN Ashwath Narayan, Home Minister Basavarj Bommai, Food and Civil Supplies Minister K Gopalaiah, Urban Development Minister Byrathi Basavaraj, and Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan.

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Uma Bharti tests Coronavirus positive

Uma Bharti said that she is at Vande Mataram Kunj located between Haridwar and Rishikesh and she will undergo a test again after four days.

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Uma Bharti

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti has tested positive for the Coronavirus. She is in quarantine at Vande Mataram Kunj located between Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

Bharti gave the information through Twitter. “I want to bring it in your notice, that on the last day on my mountain journey I called up a Corona test team following the request by the administration because I had mild fever for last three days. Despite following all legal prohibition for Covid-19 and social distancing at Himalayas I have turned out to be Corona positive,” she tweeted late Saturday.

She said, “Right now I am at Vande Mataram Kunj located between Haridwar and Rishikesh which is like my family. I will undergo a test again after four days and if the situation persists then I will take a decision in consultation with doctors.”

Bharti also urged people, who came into her contact, to get themselves tested for coronavirus.

“All… who came into my contact… I appeal to them to get their corona tests done and take precautions,” she said.

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