Expressing “regret” for assaulting an Air India staffer on March 23, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Thursday requested the Centre to revoke the ban on him imposed by six airlines. “It could have been no one’s intention to have let the situation aggravate to the level that it eventually did,” he wrote in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju.
The Osmanabad MP said investigations will “bring out the factual sequence of events”. “…This incident may kindly not be seen as a reason for likely recurrence of such an event in future also,” Gaikwad wrote. The Shiv Sena MP further said the restriction on his flying has affected the “effective discharge of his duties and responsibilities”.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday said it is examining the apology letter submitted by Gaikwad. Besides, Minister of State for Aviation Jayant Sinha met Air India Chief Managing Director Ashwani Lohani late on Thursday, reported ANI.
Speaking to the reporters on Thursday, Gaikwad said he will only apologise to Parliament if the dignity of the House is hurt, “but not to the [Air India] officer”. “I have been charged under IPC 308, which is for ‘attempt to murder’. Was I holding any weapon?.. Is this justice,” he said according to IANS.
There was an uproar in Parliament on Thursday with the Shiv Sena threatening to disrupt operations at the Mumbai airport if the ban on Gaikwad was not revoked. Party MP Anant Geete tried to attack the civil aviation minister over the matter, and 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.
Meanwhile, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut verbally attacked Air India’s chief and said, “Kya aukat hai Air India chairman ki? Kaun hai iska Chairman? Air India kya hai? Sab resolve ho jayega. Deke lenge. (What is the status of the Air India chairman? Who is the chairman of Air India? What is Air India? Everything will be resolved. We will see)“.
Raut also warned if the matter was not resolved before April 10, the Shiv Sena will boycott the NDA meeting organised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in view of the presidential elections in July.
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.