Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had assaulted an Air India staffer on board a flight last week, on Wednesday defended his actions by saying that he only reacted to “insulting comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi”. He claimed, “[It] was a reaction to actions.”
Besides, the party has released video footage that claims that it was Gaikwad who was abused first and that his actions were merely in “self-defence”. In the video, Gaikwad is seen being pushed from the flight by a few ground staffers. “This new video makes it clear that Gaikwad was abused and then pushed around,” Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena MP from South Mumbai, told Mumbai Mirror.
The Osmanabad MP further added that he had never demanded an upgrade to business class and had actually asked for a complaint book, reported NDTV. “Though I received a business class ticket on the boarding pass, no official informed me after I entered the plane that the flight does not have a business class,” said the 57-year-old politician in a four-page statement. Gaikwad has also accused the media of partisan reporting.
Gaikwad’s wife Usha has also backed his claims. “For the first time, his violent side has been seen and that was mostly because of the rude behaviour by the airline staffers,” she told Mumbai Mirror.
Gaikwad’s revised statement comes a day after he was forced to take a train to Delhi after Air India cancelled his ticket for the second time. Air India and the Federation of Indian Airlines, which represents four other carriers, had barred Gaikwad from their flights after he hit the official 25 times with a slipper and boasted widely about it on national television.
The whole episode had created a furore in Parliament, too, with his fellow Shiv Sena legislators protesting against his ban. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had also said that MPs need to travel to Delhi often when Parliament is in session, and that they cannot be expected to take trains. Both Air India and Gaikwad have lodged complaints and the investigation into the matter is still under way.