After a US-based journalist accused MJ Akbar of raping her over two decades ago, the former minister has told news agency ANI that the two were in a consensual relationship which perhaps didn't end on a "best note".
"Somewhere around 1994, Ms Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months. This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on best note," the journalist-turned-politician told ANI.
He added, "People who worked with me and knew both of us have indicated that they would be happy to testify, and if the behaviour of Pallavi Gogoi give any one of them impression that she was working under duress."
His wife, Mallika Akbar, came out in his defence for the first time since sexual harassment allegations began to pile up against him. She agreed with her husband on the "consent" part and said that "more than 20 years ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home".
"I learnt about their involvement through her late-night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritize his family," Ms Akbar said in a statement.
Pallavi Gogoi has written in The Washington Post about the times when her boss, MJ Akbar, allegedly assaulted her. His lawyer got a series of cryptic and non-specific questions from the American daily regarding incidents alleged to have taken place approximately 23 years ago, the former editor-in-chief of The Asian Age. "These allegations were false and were consequently denied," he said and added, "it has become necessary to bring certain facts to light."