Hours after maintaining a tough stand of not apologising to the Air India for manhandling its official, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad finally relented and offered a 'regret letter' to Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
Gaikwad had assaulted duty manager R. Sukumar for not being given a business class seat on an all-economy flight, and was slapped with a flight ban across all airlines.
HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED TODAY
- Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad finally relents and issues a regret letter to Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
- In the letter he has 'requested' the ministry to lift the no-fly ban imposed on him after he was accused of abusing and manhandling 60-year-old Air India flight official.
- 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.
- "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.
- "I am staring at a ban across all airlines," Gaikwad said and claimed that the charges against him are "unfounded" and should be taken back.
- "I have been charged under IPC 308, which is for 'attempt to murder'. Was I holding any weapon?.. Is this justice," he added.
- "If the dignity of Parliament has been hurt, I apologise to the Parliament, but not to the officer," he said.
- Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju reiterated that the ban was not for a Member of Parliament, but for a passenger and safety was most important in flights. This led to a protest by Shiv Sena members, and the House was adjourned twice.
- The MP was backed by Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete who questioned how a charge of attempt to murder can be slapped against the MP.
- Meanwhile, Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani had a one-on-one meeting with the civil aviation minister. It is learnt that Lohani conveyed to the minister how the Gaikwad issue is extremely sensitive and also that Air India employees across departments have taken this issue personally.
- Shiv Sena has threatened to boycott NDA meeting on April 10 if their MP's name was not removed from the blacklist of airlines.
- Dissatisfied with his reply, members from Shiv Sena protested.