India's major airlines ban Shiv Sena MP after slipper assault on steward

Michael Safi in Delhi

Air India employee beaten up on plane by Ravindra Gaikwad after MP was given an economy seat instead of business class

Gaikwad said he hit flight attendant Shiv Kumar 25 times with his slipper on the Pune to New Delhi flight on Friday. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/AP

An Indian politician has been banned from flying on most of the country’s major carriers after admitting he used a slipper to thrash an Air India steward.

Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP in India’s lower house for the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, claimed the attendant had insulted him on the Pune to New Delhi flight.

“What did he say, that I hit him with my hand? I hit him 25 times with a slipper,” an unrepentant Gaikwad told ANI news agency in video footage it posted on Twitter and aired on Indian news channels.

He added that he “dare[d] the Delhi police to arrest me” over the attack and asked the Indian state airline for an apology.

“I am booked on a 4pm flight to Pune,” he said on Friday morning. “I will take that flight. How can they not let me travel when I have a booking and I am their passenger.”

But the airline said later in the day that it had cancelled the MP’s return flight, local media reported. He had also been banned from flying on any member airlines of the Federation of Indian Airlines, the Press Trust of India said.

The dispute appears to have been started after Gaikwad bought a business class ticket but was given an economy seat for the Thursday morning flight to India’s capital.

After first complaining to an air steward, Gaikwad, who represents a constituency in the western state of Maharashtra, then got into a heated argument with the senior flight attendant, Shivkumar.

“[The steward] said ‘I will complain to [Indian prime minister Narendra] Modi’, so I hit him,” said Gaikwad. “Should I have to listen to this abuse?”

Shivkumar, 60, later said the MP had humiliated him in front of the crew. “He misbehaved with me, he even broke my glasses. I never expected this could happen ... God save our country if this is the culture and behaviour of our MPs.”

Politicians from other parties condemned Gaikwad’s actions and the video was shared widely on social media, many pointing to the footage as an example of the entitlement mentality of some Indian powerbrokers.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report