Once a bitter critic of Narendra Modi and his post-Godhra handling of 2002 mayhem, M J Akbar announced his decision to join the saffron party ostensibly because he believed Modi was unjustifiably targeted since 2002 and in 12 long years "none could prove his complexity" in the riots.
Born in 1951, 67-year-old Akbar later said he was influenced to redraw his opinion on Narendra Modi after the BJP's the then PM-nominee in a Patna rally had said that "Hindus and Muslims should not fight each other; both should instead fight poverty".
“Bengal is famous for the magic of its women and the sweet tooth of its men …. The Bihari tooth is different,” wrote M J Akbar – himself a Bihari - in one of his best selling non-fictions ‘Blood Brothers – A Family Saga’.
The highly acclaimed book is said to reflect about his family and especially his grandfather in more ways than one. It is only ironical twists of fate that ‘women’ are today responsible for what is being said as the ‘downfall’ of an iconic Editor – who actually had magical power with his words.
M J Akbar has quit the Modi ministry and will be fighting out the legal battles against numerous women – who have accused him of attacking their modesty from time to time in 1990s when he was the powerful Editor of ‘The Asian Age’.
Such was the power of his magical words that what he wrote years back in 1980s – about corruption in Nagaland – is often referred to even these days.
Corruption has been a way of life in insurgency-hit state and writing about the fungus of corruption in Naga hills so well Mr Akbar had written - “In Nagaland, government payment is made for works done (about contractors) in heaven (meaning previous life)”.
This was in reference to huge contracts being given out for no work done on ground – in a state where people are said to be religious.
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 in 2016 was no surprise once he transformed into a bitter Congress critic.
Onetime a bitter critic of Mr Modi and especially for 2002 riots – Mr Akbar is said to have endeared himself to the BJP leadership when during the peak of ‘intolerance debate’ in 2015 – he had described Rahul Gandhi (then the Congress Vice President) as the "spoilt child of Indian democracy".
“Kucch toh sharam karo (Be ashamed little)," Mr Akbar had said reacting to Congress criticism of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and waxed eloquently: "On one hand, we have a Prime Minister, a person who is so affectionate of his mother....on the other hand, there is a mother whose blind love for son has already destroyed the party and the attempt is now even to finish the country" alluding to Sonia Gandhi's alleged pampering of Congress vice president.
The BJP leaders were delighted as the Congress party could not have it worse and that too from a former Congressman and a Muslim intellectual.
Mr Akbar’s politics has been surprising but not much impressive as in his first political avatar, Akbar had won the Kishanganj Lok Sabha seat in 1989 by defeating stalwart Syed Shahbuddin. He, however, lost the seat in 1991.
Akbar had backed Rajiv Gandhi during the Bofors controversy and became the official spokesman of the Congress party but had tough time under P V Narasimha Rao and was back in journalism launching the paper ‘The Asian Age’ – a name today that has perhaps grown synonymous with his crestfallen story.
A lucid writer Mr Akbar has to his credit celebrated works like "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 was highly rated by the BJP leaders including L K Advani and Mr Modi himself.
As MP and Minister in the Modi government, he made a few powerful speeches including on December 29, 2017 in Lok Sabha while debating on the high profile Triple Talaq Bill.
Among other things he questioned the rationale behind making All India Muslim Personal Law Board such a powerful entity and said this body set up only in 1973 even does not any process of election.