M.J. Akbar: A noted editor and ex-Congressman, now a BJP spokesman (Profile)

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Eminent journalist-turned-neta Mobasshar Javed “M.J.” Akbar, once a Congress MP from Bihar’s Kishanganj and a bitter critic of Narendra Modi post the 2002 riots in Gujarat, has been strong in his censure of the Congress party as a BJP spokesperson.

The inclusion of Akbar, who was a Congress spokesperson and known to be close to former Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Chandrashekhar, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers is no surprise.

His tilt towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party he had always opposed, and especially towards Narendra Modi in 2014 in the run-up to the general elections, had surprised many.

Akbar’s brief stint as Rajya Sabha member from Jharkhand ended last month, but he was quickly brought in as a member of the Upper House from Madhya Pradesh.

Akbar announced his decision to join the saffron party ostensibly because he believed Modi was unjustifiably targeted since 2002 and since “none could prove” his involvement in the riots in the 12 long years.

A good orator and journalist who has to his credit the launch of two prestigious newspapers, The Telegraph and The Asian Age, Akbar, 65, is also author of a number of best seller non-fictions, including a biography of Jawaharlal Nehru titled “Nehru: The Making of India” and others like “Kashmir: Behind the Vale”, “Riot After Riot” and “India: The Siege Within”.

His book “Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan” published in 2012 that discusses the identity crisis and class struggles in Pakistan has been rated highly by the Sangh Parivar thinktanks and leaders, including Advani and Modi himself.

Akbar endeared himself to the party bosses when during the height of the intolerance debate in September 2015 he described Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as the “spoilt child of Indian democracy”.

Team Modi considers Akbar an asset.

Earlier in his political career, Akbar won Lok Sabha election in 1989 by defeating Syed Shahbuddin, a strong proponent of Babri Masjid movement from Kishanganj. He, however, lost the seat later in 1991.

Akbar had backed then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during the Bofors controversy and became the official spokesman of the Congress party.

He did not survive long in the Congress under P.V. Narasimha Rao.

By 1992-93 Akbar was back to journalism.



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