In a statement issued to the media, Akbar said the accusations against him were false and that he would fight them in a "personal capacity". "It would have been tough for the government to justify retaining him", said Shastri.
Akbar, who stepped down from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers yesterday, has trashed the allegations against him, saying "accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections".
Akbar, who denied the sexual harassment allegations, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, according to a statement. Neither the party nor the government-backed Akbar publicly even as the Congress kept demanding Akbar's resignation.
BJP spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi said: "The allegations are personal and the party would not want to get embroiled, specially when the Modi government has done a lot for women's empowerment".
The Editors Guild of India salutes the courage shown by several women journalists in bringing to light instances of how they were sexually harassed.
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A microphone and placards are placed on the pavement as Indian journalists attend a protest against what they say is sexual harassment in the workplace in New Delhi, India, October 13, 2018. The party, government and the top leadership has talked about promoting education for girl child, so we could not have been siding with a minister who has been accused by several women of misconduct.
The criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani comes up for hearing in Delhi court later today. It had termed as "scandalous" the allegations made by Ramani against Akbar and said "very tone and tenor" are ex-facie defamatory and they have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected Akbar's reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues and caused irreparable loss and tremendous distress.
Reacting to Mr Akbar's resignation, Ms Ramani tweeted that she had been "vindicated". She described Akbar's alleged advances in a first-person account for the news website, the Wire.
The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and the others had been a witness to it.
While Mr Akbar's initial decision not to resign was also believed to have been taken after consulting the BJP top brass after he explained his side of the story, there was a growing feeling that Mr Akbar's decision not to resign would provide ammunition for the Opposition in the election season. "The BJP government has been talking of girl child education and women's safety-Akbar's continuation in office had become hard", said Abhay Kumar Dubey, a Delhi-based political analyst associated with the Centre for Study of Developing Societies.
The Congress' Priyanka Chaturvedi, however, questioned the Prime Minister's silence.