New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who was banned from flying after he assaulted an Air India official with his footwear, said on Thursday that he had been “abused and manhandled” by the airline staffer last month. He offered to apologise for his behaviour in Parliament but not to the 60-year-old flight official.
Gaikwad demanded that the flying ban on him should be lifted. He got support from other opposition parties.
The issue also saw an altercation between Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises Anant Geete, of the Shiv Sena, and Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who sought to dismiss the issue saying safety was most important on flights.
Later, the government assured that an “amicable” solution will be found to the flying ban.
Gaikwad raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on Thursday after a meeting at the residence of party MP Sanjay Raut.
According to sources, the instruction for creating a ruckus in the House over the issue came from party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Shiv Sena had on Wednesday threatened to disrupt proceedings in the Lok Sabha if the issue was not addressed.
Gaikwad said that on the day of the incident (March 23) he was made to travel in economy class despite having a business class ticket. After the Pune-Delhi flight landed, he asked for the complaint register.
“After 45 minutes, an officer came. I talked to him calmly, but he asked who are you. I asked him who are you, he said he is the ‘father of Air India’. When I said that I was a politician, one of them said ‘But you are not Narendra Modi. Are you’,” said the Shiv Sena MP, giving his version of the incident.
The MP alleged that the airline staff held him by the collar after which he pushed him.
“I am staring at a ban across all airlines,” Gaikwad said and claimed that the charges against him were “unfounded” and should be taken back.
“If the dignity of Parliament has been hurt, I apologise to the Parliament, but not to the officer,” he said.
Gaikwad had assaulted duty manager R. Sukumar, and was slapped with a flight ban across all airlines.
He took a chartered flight to arrive in Delhi.
“Probe the whole incident, see who is guilty, and lift the flying ban on me,” he urged.
The MP was backed by lone party minister Geete who questioned how a charge of attempt to murder can be slapped against the MP.
Raju, however, said safety was paramount in a flight.
“There is a process of law and it will take its own course. When I made submission to the House (earlier), I said it is not an MP, but a passenger. I have nothing to add here.
“If you want to defuse the situation you can, if you want to aggravate the situation, you can. In machines where people fly, safety is important and safety will not be compromised,” he said.
Dissatisfied with his reply, members from Shiv Sena protested and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the house till 12.45 p.m.
Geete almost came to blows with Raju, but Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Textiles Minister Smriti Irani intervened and stopped him.
As Shiv Sena MPs surrounded Raju, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S.S. Ahluwalia rushed to him.
Raju and Geete were subsequently taken to the Speaker’s chamber.
Sources said that Mahajan discussed the issue with the leaders.
The house was adjourned twice after that, for 15 minutes each time, before the issue could be resolved.
Rajnath Singh then promised an amicable solution.
“We have reached a conclusion. Civil Aviation Minister will talk to stakeholders and find an amicable solution,” he said.