Shiv Sena, lawmakers slam Air India, other airlines for banning MP Gaikwad
The Shiv Sena will also bring up the matter of Gaikwad being put on a no-fly list -- the list was created because of him -- in Parliament today. Every single airline has refused to let him fly with them. Photograph: (ANI)
An Indian lawmaker, who last week assaulted an airline staffer with a slipper "25 times" and was banned by six carriers subsequently, received backing from his party men and a few other parliamentarians on Monday.
Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP belonging to a far-right political group named Shiv Sena, had beaten a 60-year-old Air India employee for being refused a business class berth on aircraft flying from Pune to New Delhi.
The lawmaker from western India was later unrepentant about the incident and sounded brazen about the incident later when he said: "I am not a BJP (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party) MP. I am a Shiv Sena MP and will not tolerate any insult. Let the employee complain. I will complain to the Speaker and other authorities."
He had also refused to apologise for his misdemeanour later, urging the airline and the employee to say sorry first.
Gaikwad, a first-time MP from Maharashtra's Osmanabad, was then blacklisted by Air India and five other airlines, including IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Jet Airways and Vistara.
Naresh Agrawal of the SP in Rajya Sabha: Airlines banning Ravindra Gaikwad (Shiv Sena), just goes to show their (airlines) 'dadagiri' pic.twitter.com/PC9Zc7SI0x— ANI (@ANI_news) March 27, 2017
But the lawmaker's ostracisation by the airlines has been condemned by Indian politicians.
Although some politicians voiced their disapproval hours after the incident, Shiv Sena members criticised Air India and other airlines for their decision to block Gaikwad from using their facility.
Gaikwad's party colleague Anandrao Adsul said the airlines' decision was "not right" and will raise the subject in both the Houses (Upper and Lower Houses of India's Parliament).
Adsul also pointed out the recent skirmish on a plane involving Kapil Sharma -- a popular Indian comedian -- and asked why he was not banned by the airline.
"Even Kapil Sharma misbehaved on flight after getting drunk but no ban was imposed on him," Adsul said to accuse the airlines of being biased.
Shiv Sena spokesperson, Manisha Kayande, dubbed the move as "illogical" as Gaikwad is "not a criminal".
6 Shiv Sena MPs meeting speaker Sumitra Mahajan on issue of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad barred from travelling by air (File Pic) pic.twitter.com/iGayG6vOXr— ANI (@ANI_news) March 27, 2017
Lawmakers from other parties also came down heavily on Indian airlines.
Naresh Agrawal of Samajwadi Party said in India's Upper House, also called the Rajya Sabha, that the airlines' move to bar Gaikwad from flying is "dadagiri (bullying)".
Indian news agency ANI quoted unnamed sources as saying that Shiv Sena was planning to "bring privilege motion over the issue".
A privilege motion gains precedence in the Parliament if it is a matter of great urgency.
The party has also demanded a shutdown in Maharashtra's Osmanabad, the constituency represented by Gaikwad, to protest against the airlines' diktat.
Last week, senior party leader Sanjay Raut had questioned Air India's handling of the incident. Raut asked Air India to "ponder" about what transpired and how it would feel if the public started to blacklist them.
But India's federal government has condemned Gaikwad's loutish behaviour on the aircraft on March 23.
India's civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: "Violence of any kind can be a disaster for airlines. We have good safety regulations but never in my dreams expected an MP to be caught (doing this)."
The minister was reiterating his views on the incident. On March 24, he had been similarly disapproving of Gaikwad's action on the Air India plane: "No political party will endorse such an act. Any citizen hitting an airline staffer doesn't make any sense."
Shiv Sena supporters hold bike rally in Maharashtra's Omerga in support of party MP Ravindra Gaikwad pic.twitter.com/rrmC62fLVo— ANI (@ANI_news) March 27, 2017