Ravindra Gaikwad is a Shiv Sena leader, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 from the Osmanabad constituency in Maharashtra. He has also been a two-time MLA from Umarga constituency in Osmanabad district from where he was victorious in 1995 and 2004 Assembly elections. Born in neighbouring Solapur district, Gaikwad is considered to be instrumental in expanding the footprint of the Sena in Osmanabad and putting a tough fight to its main competitor, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar.
Gaikwad, who taught commerce at a local college in Osmanabad before contesting elections, has been in the news recently for assaulting a staffer of Air India after an altercation over seating arrangement in the aircraft. The Sena MP refused to deboard the aircraft after it landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from Pune. Gaikwad, who had a business-class ticket on the flight, was miffed after the flight from Pune became all-economy. Although his personal secretary was offered an option to cancel the flight, the MP took off for Delhi as he had to attend a meeting. He was also given a front-row seat. At the Delhi airport tarmac, Sukumar, whom the MP admitted to assaulting, told police that he was beaten, his spectacles broken and nearly pushed off the aircraft. Airline staff rescued him during the tiff.
Following the incident, the Federation of Indian Airlines said that it has decided to ban Gaikwad from flying on any of its member airlines – Indigo, Spicejet, Jet Airways. Air India also banned him from its flights. The Sena MP refused to apologise on Friday (March 24) and dared the Delhi Police to arrest him. He also said that his party and Uddhav Thackeray will resolve the matter. Two separate complaints, one by Sukumar and another by Air India, have been registered with Delhi Police.
Gaikwad has seven cases registered against him, including that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and charges of stopping a public servant from performing his duty, his 2014 election affidavit showed. He was also involved in the infamous incident at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi when he was among 11 Sena MPs who forced a Muslim worker to break his Ramzan fast. Gaikwad however clarified to the media that he was the one who resolved the matter. The MPs were complaining of poor quality ‘chapati.’
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Gaikwad defeated Padamsinh Patil, a powerful NCP leader, by more than 2 lakh votes. He is known to have engaged in tiffs with local BJP leaders in the district as well. “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,” a fellow professor who knows Gaikwad told The Indian Express.
(With inputs from Zeeshan Shaikh and Mahender Singh Manral)