Sena calls for bandh: Key developments in Ravindra Gaikwad-Air India fracas

Ravindra Gaikwad
Shiv Sena on Monday called for a bandh in MP Ravindra Gaikwad's constituency of Osmanabad, Maharashtra, after he was put on a 'no-fly list' by various airlines for assaulting an Air India (AI) staffer in Delhi last week. 

"We have called for the Osmanabad bandh to protest the humiliation of our leader by the airlines who have denied him flying rights," Sena district vice president Kamlakar Chavan told news agency PTI. Gaikwad had abused and assaulted a 60-year-old duty manager of AI, R Sukumar, with slippers for not being able to fly business class despite having boarded an all-economy Pune-New Delhi flight.  

While Gaikwad appears to have decided to stay low after refusing to apologise for the incident, his party has taken up arms in support of its MP. 

Here are the top 5 developments in the ongoing fracas

1) Taking the issue to Parliament: The Shiv Sena, according to reports, is also likely to bring a privilege motion in Parliament on Monday over the issue. (Read more

AI and six private airlines banned the 56-year-old MP from flying as he refused to apologise for the incident that triggered nationwide outrage. According to the Hindustan Times, the party has said that the airlines should not try to ban Gaikwad from flying with them without conducting an investigation first.

Further, according to the report, while the party said that it did not endorse his actions, there was also no need for any disciplinary action against the MP. 

A privilege motion concerns a breach of any of the rights or immunities enjoyed by a Member of Parliament, Member of Legislative Assembly or Member of Legislative Council which allow them to discharge their functions. The motion is moved against the party or parties who have allegedly breached the concerned member's privilege. 

2) Gaikwad says not hiding: For his part, Gaikwad, as reported earlier, has claimed that he was asked by a top party leader not to speak with the media over the issue. (Read more)

Threatening legal action against the national carrier, the Parliamentarian said he has not gone into hiding and will be present in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. 

"A senior Sena leader ordered me not to speak with media till Wednesday (March 29) and so I am not coming before the media. I will come to Omerga on Tuesday and celebrate Marathi new year 'Gudi Padwa' with my family and Shiv Sainiks. I will then attend Lok Sabha session (in New Delhi) on Wednesday," Gaikwad told news agency PTI. However, he did not disclose his present location. "I am not hiding and will speak to all after Wednesday," he added.

3) Airhostess sheds light on incident: An air hostess of the national airlines who was an eye witness to the incident on Sunday provided details of the altercation.

"The only thing is that he was not willing to get off the plane even after being pursued by background and commercial staff. He wanted to speak to higher authority at the managerial level so that he can take up some issues with them which he was facing primarily, due to the boarding pass he had been issued, which was of J-class and he was given economy seat because the aircraft on that route is always economy. So, this discrepancy led to an argument with the ground staff and the MP concerned," the air hostess told ANI. She also claimed that the AI staffer was doing his job and some apparent miscommunication between him and the MP escalated into a physical altercation. She, however, claimed that prior to the incident, Gaikwad had been very courteous to the female staff and called her "sister". (Read more

4) Sukumar says not afraid: Sukumar, who was assaulted by Gaikwad, asserted that the elected representatives needed to behave in a decent manner.

"I am not scared at all, either with Gaikwad or with the Shiv Sena. I have been serving public and have also faced many who get irritated on such issues. It's a common thing for me," he added. 

5) Samajwadi Party backs Sena MP: Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal backed Gaikwad on Monday in the Rajya Sabha, attacking airlines that banned his entry. He said that airlines banning Ravindra Gaikwad just goes to show their thuggishness. (Read more)

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel