Air India has once again cancelled Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad’s flight booking, days after he allegedly assaulted one of the airline’s employees. He was scheduled to fly from Mumbai to Delhi, but was forced to take a train from Pune as Air India and six private airlines had earlier banned him from flying.
On Monday, Sena raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, requesting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to take up the flight ban with the government. Sena MP Anadrao Adsul defended Gaikwad saying that the airliner did not ban television actor Kapil Sharma for allegedly getting drunk and misbehaving on a flight. The party doesn’t condone Gaikwad’s behaviour but banning him from flying is wrong, Adsul said in Lok Sabha.
Responding to Adsul, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said he did not expect in his “wildest dreams” that an MP would get caught roughing up a person. “Violence of any kind is a disaster in civil aviation. We have a good safety record, did not expect in the wildest of dreams an MP would be caught doing this,” he said. “We can’t have unequal treatment of different classes, need to interact with people and take them along, we need to keep safety in mind.”
Speaking outside Parliament, Mahajan hoped the issue would be resolved soon. “MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot travel by train always. At times, they need to travel by plane also. I feel that this issue (blanket ban) should be resolved amicably through talks,” she said.
Last week, Gaikwad claimed that he thrashed a Air India employee with his slippers for allegedly being disrespectful towards him. The MP lost his cool and refused to leave the flight after it landed in Delhi. He was upset over being forced to travel in economy class when he had a business class ticket. Gaikwad allegedly tried to push a 60-year-old employee off the ramp. In response, Air India and six private airlines banned Gaikwad from booking on their flights.