Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday said MPs are expected to attend Parliament when it is in session and cannot take a train every time they have to travel, days after a Shiv Sena legislator was banned by various carriers for brawling with an Air India staff member. On Saturday, the Federation of Indian Airlines had banned Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying on any of their planes after he hit the staffer multiple times with his shoe during a discussion about seating arrangements on Thursday.
“What had happened and who was at fault is a different issue. An MP has to come to the House and cannot take the train every time. Sometimes, he has to take a flight,” Mahajan said, adding that the problem can be solved through talks.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena MPs in the Lok Sabha had protested against the ban on Gaikwad. Anandrao Adsul, a legislator from Maharashtra’s Amravati, referred to a recent incident in which comedian Kapil Sharma had allegedly misbehaved with a fellow passenger during a flight to Australia. “He [Kapil Sharma] was not banned. But a person who represents people, and when the session is on, was banned,” Adsul said.
However, Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had recently released the safety guidelines under which Gaikwad had been barred from flying by major airlines. “An MP is also a passenger. Now that the MP has raised it, we can’t have unequal treatment to people of different classes,” Raju said in the House.
Gaikwad also found support in Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal in the Rajya Sabha. “Airlines banning Ravindra Gaikwad are showing their ‘dadagiri’,” Agrawal said.
Meanwhike, the Shiv Sena on Monday called for a shutdown in the state’s Osmanabad constituency, which Gaikwad represents. The MP had been untraceable since he got off the Mumbai-bound train from New Delhi before it reached the destination. Party officials had told PTI that he had disembarked in Vapi, Gujarat.
Gaikwad had said he hit the Air India employee 25 times with his sandal because he was flown in the economy class despite booking business class seats for his flights 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.