The Federation of Indian Airlines and Air India in a joint statement on Friday said they had banned Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying on any of their planes, a day after he roughed up an AI staff member, PTI reported. The FIA includes IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways. Earlier, Gaikwad had dared Air India to ban him. On Friday, the national carrier cancelled his return ticket, while IndiGo cancelled his ticket from Delhi to Pune.
Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had criticised Gaikwad for assaulting an Air India staffer. “No one should behave like this,” she said. The senior politician added that she would take action against Gaikwad when the matter came to her.
FIRs have been lodged against the legislator. However, Gaikwad has dared the Delhi Police to arrest him, according to NDTV.
Gaikwad had hit an Air India staffer multiple times with his slipper during a discussion about seating arrangements on Thursday. The first-time MP from Maharashtra said he had hit the employee 25 times with his sandal because he was given an economy class seat repeatedly despite booking business class tickets from Pune to Delhi. However, Air India said the plane he had chosen to fly on was economy-only, and that he had refused to take a different flight.
After the incident, the MP appeared unrepentant for his actions. “Haan maine usko maara tha, usne badtameezi ki thi [Yes, I hit him. He had misbehaved],” he told ANI. Gaikwad said he had initially refused to leave the plane, but later decided to complain and asked to speak with an official who would be able to resolve his problem.
“I said I am an MP, don’t raise your voice. He said, ‘what MP? I will talk to Modi,’” Gaikwad said. While speaking to CNN-News18, the Shiv Sena leader said the Air India staffer should not have behaved the way he did with a customer.
The assaulted staffer, however, said the MP got abusive when he was told his request could not be complied with. “He broke my spectacles and humiliated me in front of the whole crew. God save our country if this is the culture and behavior of our MPs,” he told ANI.
The Shiv Sena has sought an explanation from Gaikwad. “The Sena does not condone violence of any kind. We have also sought a version of the incident from the Air India staffer,” Harshal Pradhan, media adviser to party president Uddhav Thackeray, told PTI.
Gaikwad represents the right-wing party from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad constituency.