Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad is known to have slapped a few of his students when he was teaching commerce at a college in Umerga taluka in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district. But his assault on an Air India employee for the supposed failure of the airline to operate a flight that did not have business class facilities has surprised residents in his home district of Osmanabad.
“He is a straightforward man, who is amenable. He, however, has a streak of eccentricity, which manifests when things do not go the way he wants,” said a fellow professor who taught at the Omerga-based Chhatrapati Shivaji College. The professor spoke on condition of anonymity.
Since his election as an MP, Gaikwad has also been embroiled in a brawl with local BJP leaders of his district. “His eccentric side seems to have become dominant these days. I find it difficult to visualise him assaulting someone. I don’t know if it was him or the crazy political climate in our country that made him do this,” said his former colleague.
Gaikwad went by the name “Ravi sir” in his college. Born in Solapur district in a middle-class politically affiliated family, Gaikwad has been a consummate politician. His father, Vishwanath Gaikwad, was the chairman of the panchayat samiti of Omerga. Gaikwad decided to branch off on his own and was said to have been instrumental in expanding the footprint of the Sena in Osmanabad.
“He has a way with people. He has travelled extensively in areas around Omerga to expanded the Sena in the region in the 80s,” said Anil Kor, a social activist from Omerga. Gaikwad’s efforts aimed at expanding the party’s reach and base were rewarded when the Sena gave him a ticket in 1995 from Omerga when he won. He subsequently took a five-year hiatus from teaching to represent his constituency. He was subsequently defeated in the next elections after which he returned to teaching. He then won a second term in 2004 during which his clout in the region grew.
At a time Osmanabad was known as a personal fiefdom of senior NCP leader, Padamsinh Patil, Gaikwad gave him a scare in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections losing the seat by a margin of just 6,000 votes. Patil was subsequently arrested after the elections on charges of murder.
Gaikwad, however, had his revenge in the 2014 elections when he trumped Padamsinh Patil by over 2 lakh votes.
According to his election affidavit, Gaikwad has seven cases against him, including one of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and charges of stopping a public servant from performing his duty. He was also among the 11 Shiv Sena MPs who reportedly forced a Muslim worker to break his Ramzan fast and eat a chapati at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.