Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, accused of hitting an Air India employee with his sandal at Delhi airport last month, said he would apologise to Parliament if he had sullied its name, but not to the airline staffer. Attending the Lok Sabha for the first time since the incident, Gaikwad said he was being subjected to a media trial, ANI reported.
“What wrong have I done?” Gaikwad asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. “Why am I being subjected to a media trial without an investigation?” The Osmanabad MP, who has been barred from flying by several airlines, reached Delhi on Wednesday by a charter flight.
As soon as the House met for the day, Shiv Sena leader Anandrao Adsul said, “Gaikwad is present and will make a statement. Either you allow him [to speak] now or later today, he should be allowed [to speak].” The Houe speaker said he could speak during Zero Hour but not during Question Hour. A day earlier, Adsul had threatened to create a ruckus in Parliament over the issue.
Before Adsul spoke, Shiv Sena members raised slogans against Air India when Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju rose to reply to a question on regional airports. “Goonda raj band karo...nyay karo, nyay karo [Stop bullying, do justice]“ was among the slogans they raised.
The situation escalated after Gaikwad’s presentation. Party MP Anant Geete went charging at Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju for saying he would not intervene in the flying ban on Gaikwad. Ministers had to shield Raju, even as Geete was heard saying “No flight will take off from Mumbai.”
Following the uproar in Parliament, the Air India management has been asked to heighten security at all airports in Maharashtra, airline officials told ANI. Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh said the civil aviation minister and Sena MPs will find an amicable solution to the matter.
Gaikwad had claimed to have hit a 60-year-old Air India duty manager because he was given an economy class seat despite booking business class seats for his flight 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. Moreover, he had refused to apologise for his behaviour and has so far held that the employee should apologise to him instead.