Shiv Sena demands lifting MP Gaikwad’s flying ban

The Shiv Sena demanded lifting of a flying ban on its lawmaker Ravindra Gaikwad, accused of assaulting an Air India staffer, but the government said airlines had the right to refuse a passenger.

MPs of the Sena, an ally of the ruling BJP at the Centre and Maharashtra, created uproar in the Lok Sabha and at one point of time, engaged in a verbal duel with Congress members who slammed Gaikwad’s action.

Sena supporters also called a shutdown on Mar 27 at Osmanabad, the parliamentary constituency of the MP who has admitted to hitting a 60-year-old Air India employee with slipper more than “25 times”.

Gaikwad was allegedly angry after being denied a business class seat on a Pune-Delhi flight. The flight reportedly did not have a business class.

“There was some dispute, he had beaten an Air India staffer. I agree it is wrong. Air India has filed a police complaint and we will accept whatever the result is, that is not a problem,” Sena member Anandrao Adsul said in the Lok Sabha.

“The problem is all airlines have restricted him. The Constitution says people can go anywhere in the country. If there is one incident and all airlines ban him, it is wrong.”

Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said an MP was just another passenger and violence of any kind on a flight can turn into a disaster.

He said airlines have been empowered to deny boarding to any passenger whose demeanour was not proper.

The Sena has continued to defend its MP though senior leaders have said that the party does not endorse his actions. However, the MP is unlikely to face any strict action.