Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who made headlines with his assault of an Air India employee and the flying ban imposed on him, has hired a doppelgänger to deal with selfie-seekers, Mumbai Mirror reported on Saturday. The parliamentarian from Osmanabad travels with his lookalike, party worker Ratnakar Sagar, and directs people seeking selfies with him to pose with his lookalike, who pretends to be Gaikwad.
While Sagar dresses in Gaikwad’s trademark kurta pyjama, the MP stays discreet with casual attire. Gaikwad told the English daily at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus that he tells selfie-seekers, including ticket collectors, that he is the MP’s aide and directs them to pose with Sagar. Even though airlines have revoked the flying ban on him, Gaikwad said he has opted to travel by train so far.
“My last two journeys on the Rajdhani Express, from Mumbai to Delhi, were very comfortable. I am in no hurry to catch a flight,” Gaikwad told Mumbai Mirror.
He said his decision to ask Sagar to pose as him stemmed from the “media trial” that followed the spat with an Air India employee on March 23. “Many people have started recognising me, and they request for selfies. I do not like to turn them away, but at the same time, it gets time-consuming. So I chose my party worker Ratnakant Sagar to pose as me,” Gaikwad told the newspaper.
On April 8, four private airlines had lifted the ban imposed on Gaikwad, a day after Air India had revoked its restriction on him. The five airlines had banned the Shiv Sena leader from flying with them after he had hit a 60-year-old Air India employee 25 times with his shoe because he was flown in the economy class despite booking a business class seat for his flight from Pune to Delhi. He later claimed that the incident was triggered by his request for a complaint book. On March 29, he said his behaviour was a reaction to comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gaikwad had earlier attracted criticism for force-feeding a Muslim caterer during the fasting month of Ramzan to prove the “poor quality” of the food served at the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, according to Mumbai Mirror reported.