India: After airlines ban, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad forced to travel by train
Gaikwad had on Thursday beaten up 62-year-old duty manager with slippers over not being able to fly business class despite having boarded an all-economy flight. Photograph: (ANI)
The Indian lawmaker, who had been barred by five airlines for assaulting an airline employee, had to take the train to travel from New Delhi to Mumbai on Friday night.
Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad boarded the August Kranti Express from New Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin station, according to a senior Railway Ministry official.
The lawmaker, who had confessed to have beaten a 60-year-old duty manager of Air India with a sandal "25 times" on Wednesday, booked three seats in the Mumbai-bound train.
Gaikwad faced public outrage for his brazen assault on an airline employee for being asked to sit in the economy class of an Air India aircraft flying from Pune to New Delhi.
The first-time lawmaker from Osmanabad in India's western state of Maharashtra also used his clout to delay the flight service, following which Air India and four other major airlines decided to blacklist him.
On Friday evening, the MP had booked a ticket on another airline IndiGo to travel from New Delhi to his home state. But the airline cancelled his booking when they were alerted that the ticket was for the Gaikwad.
Incidentally, the lawmaker became the first passenger to have been barred from flying by an Indian airline for rude behaviour. Although, it is a common policy of international airlines to bar rude passengers from flying with them, the move against the Indian lawmaker is an unprecendented one taken by Indian airlines.
Air India has also pressed charges against Gaikwad for his misdemeanour on the flight that was supposed to take him to India's capital city for parliamentary work.
Vadodara (Gujarat): Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad enroute to Mumbai in a train, refrains from commenting further on Air India row. pic.twitter.com/qhAyEWCliE— ANI (@ANI_news) March 24, 2017
Gaikwad's action also drew sharp rebuke from his colleagues in the parliament, with many condemning the incident.
His party, the far-right Shiv Sena, has decided to question him about the incident, but soundbytes emanating from their camp has sent out mixed signals.
Some of his party colleagues -- Eknath Shinde and Ramdas Kadam -- chastised Gaikwad for resorting to violence, which was also caught on video.
But another party leader Sanjay Raut backed the under-fire Gaikwad and instead questioned Air India's handling of the incident. Raut asked Air India to "ponder" about what happened on Wednesday and how it would feel if the public started to blacklist them.
An equally belligerent Gaikwad has refused to apologise for his actions as well, saying the assaulted employee named Sukumar Raman should say sorry first. He has also complained to the civil aviation ministry about the incident and questioned why domestic flights don't provide "TV and towels" like the international carriers do.
Hours after the assault, Gaikwad had unflinchingly stated: "I am not a BJP (Indian PM Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party) MP. I am a Shiv Sena MP and will not tolerate any insult."
(WION with inputs from PTI)