Metoo reaches Congress doors, scribe alleges molestation by UPA Minister

MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The #MeToo movement that has singed the entrainment and media industry alike besides engulfing Union Minister M.J. Akbar, on Tuesday reached Congress door with journalist Sonal Kellogg alleging that she was molested by a “powerful politician” and a minister in the Congress-led UPA-I government.

Giving an account of her ordeal on website, Kellog without naming the minister, said he would “greet me with a kiss” every time they met and once “pressed one of my breasts”.

“During my time, a Cabinet minister, in-charge of one of the ministries which I was covering, would always greet me with a kiss when I went to meet him,” wrote Kellog who in February 2006 had shifted to Delhi from Ahmedabad joining the Asian Age’s main edition.

“This minister, quite an advocate of women’s rights and empowerment, is highly educated. He studied from St Stephen’s College and did his masters from one of the top universities in England. He is very articulate – but he is also very touchy-feely.

“In Gujarat, where I come from, politicians don’t greet women journalists with hugs and kisses. But he would hold my face and try to kiss me on the mouth,” said Kellogg who is now the chief content writer at Vama Communications, Ahmedabad.

She said that she didn’t report the matter then as “I was new in Delhi and thought if I said anything, it would be viewed as having a small town mentality”.

“I am not able to speak up against authority and mostly just try to manage to stay clear instead of shouting or slapping or something like that,” said Kellogg, a survivor of “long-term child sexual abuse.”

She said the last time she met the MP in his bungalow in early 2014 when he went “too far.”

“At that time, I was in-between jobs. I was sitting across the table and talking to him. After some time, the minister got up to go to the washroom which was on my left, so he walked right across the table and while passing me by, he stretched his hand and suddenly pressed one of my breasts.

“I was taken aback, not quite expecting this, but I did manage to say, eDon’t touch me.’ Before entering the washroom, he asked, eWhy? What is the problem?’ I told him, ‘Don’t touch me because I don’t like it’. He went to the washroom and then came back, sat down and resumed the conversation as if nothing had happened,” wrote Kellogg, adding she moved back to Ahmadabad and never met the politician.

“I would like to say that even if a man is testing whether his advances are welcome or not, he can’t start with squeezing the breasts of a woman. The least he can do is see whether she is interested – you cannot just grab a woman and think it is okay. Also, in this case, the minister is married and is a father of grown-up daughters, so it is definitely not okay.

So, why didn’t I report the matter? Who was I going to report it to? I was in-between jobs and as I said earlier, I didn’t report my sexual abuse as a child either for more than a decade and a half, in fact I never reported it. I started to speak about it publicly only a couple of years ago,” she added.

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