Writing on Facebook, the MLA asked why their friendship was the subject of a smear campaign in the media.

Were close friends says MLA Swaraj taking on harassers in Shani Prabhakaran row
news Social Media Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 13:02

Days after a smear campaign was unleashed on senior journalist Shani Prabhakaran of Manorama News and Left Democratic Front MLA M Swaraj, the latter has spoken out against the harassers. 

In a Facebook post late on Saturday, Swaraj said that Shani is a long-time friend, even before the two decided on their respective careers – a politician and a media person.

Earlier this week, photographs of Shani and Swaraj together inside a lift were circulated on social media, with defamatory remarks laced with sexual undertones, made against Shani. An online news portal Narada News had also published an article claiming that Shani held talks with Swaraj so that she could be a CPI (M) candidate in Ernakulam. 

Refusing to take the harassment lying down, Shani had filed a complaint with the State Police Chief, complaining that her pictures with friend were being used to unleash a cyberattack on her. 

Read the story in detail: Journalist Shani Prabhakaran goes to cops after abusers target her with sexual innuendos

Swaraj was silent about the controversy at first, but he finally commented about it through a Facebook post. 

"I had thought I will not offer a comment in this matter. But then I thought I must, after realising the extent of sexism in these attacks," Swaraj wrote in Malayalam. 

He added: "What kind of discussions are happening because Shani visited me. A lot of our friends come to visit us in the apartment I live along with my wife. Why are such friendly visits being dubbed as political and given other meanings? Shani is not just one among the many visitors, she is a close friend. It is a friendship that started way before we became politician and journalist. It is a friendship that continues to be strong, despite differences in political views and journalism. The disgusting smear campaigns can continue. We will continue to be friends."

He also shared a photograph of him and Shani in the post.