Shiv Sena parliamentarian Ravindra Gaikwad was forced to take a New Delhi-Mumbai train on Friday after all major airlines in the country put him on their no-fly list for assaulting a senior Air India official.
Air India had explained that the plane he had chosen to fly on was economy-only, and that the first-time MP from Maharashtra had refused to take a different flight.
Gaikwad had on Thursday hit a 60-year-old Air India duty manager with a slipper because he was refused a business class seat.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against Gaikwad on a complaint by Air India and its staff member.
In a strategic meeting to discuss the party's next course of action as it finds itself embroiled in the Gaikwad-Air India controversy, Shiv Sena chief Udhhav Thackeray made it abundantly clear that any punitive action against its errant parliamentarian is out of the question.
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Mr Gaikwad landed in Delhi yesterday on an Air India flight from Pune.
Sukumar, who by Gaikwad's own admission, was hit with sandals "25 times", demanded that the MP must be punished. Shockingly, Ravindra Gaikwad, the MP in question, justified his behaviour, and even sought an apology from the airline. "I will not apologise", the MP said on Friday, suggesting his party would support him in the fight. Both have Pune-Delhi flights. "Kaahe ka pashchataap (what is there to repent?)", he said. She reminds him of the consequences of attacking someone; she speaks to him of his responsibility as an elected representative; tries to point out his role as a leader and exemplar to the people that look up to him and voted him to office.
State-run Air India has filed two police reports against the lawmaker, and assured all staff of management support, chairman Ashwani Lohani wrote in a memo to staff, excerpts of which were given to reporters. Gaikwad had hit the airline staff as he was upset with not being given a business class seat on the airline.
Though there were no passengers on the plane at the time the incident took place, it would be a huge mistake to take it as case between the rogue MP and the airlines.