The ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad by various airlines is likely to be lifted on Thursday (April 6) evening with the government expected to persuade Air India. The Shiv Sena has also put pressure on the government saying they would not attend the NDA meeting if the matter is not resolved by Monday, April 10.
The decision was taken after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with Shiv Sena MP Anand Geete and Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday. Raju was gheraoed by the Sena MPs inside the Lok Sabha earlier in the day.
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Gaikwad had said last month that he had hit a senior staff member of Air India "25 times" with his slippers on charges that he had misbehaved with the Sena MP. The airline refused to fly him following the incident and also cancelled four of his tickets with the carrier. Air India also filed a couple of criminal complaints against Gaikwad. Five other airlines also banned on the parliamentarian later. Meanwhile, SpiceJet was quoted by CNN-News18 as saying that they would lift the ban on Gaikwad only if he extended an apology.
Gaikwad, in a long speech in Parliament on Thursday, said he would apologise to parliament but not to the Air India manager whom he assaulted.
"I apologise for my behaviour, but I am not apologetic to the airline official who abused and manhandled me, and spoke in a derogatory manner about parliamentarians and the prime minister. This behaviour was unacceptable... It was only after he insulted the PM and the parliament that I got upset and hit him. Only that clip was shown to the public," Gaikwad said referring to a video that was produced as evidence against him. The Sena has claimed that it has another video which proves that Gaikwad was shown in a negative light. However, the party has not yet shared the video footage.
Gaikwad also said that the media highlighted a lop-sided version of the entire incident. According to the manager who was assaulted, the Sena MP refused to leave the flight for almost an hour forcing over 100 passengers to wait for their next flight. Gaikwad wanted to know why he was flying in the economy class despite having booked a seat in the business class. When the airline officials explained that the aircraft operated as an economy-only flight, the MP lost his cool.
However, Gaikwad has presented a different version. He said that he had "peacefully" asked for a complaints book so that he could jot down his objections, but was treated with disrespect and then "grabbed by the collar." According to the MP, the Air India manager provoked him with insults like "Who do you think you are? Narendra Modi?"